As part of CSSM’s Melbourne Marathon series, this week we are starting from the bottom up – your feet!

A successful marathon relies on many aspects, including your shoes. There’s no “right” running shoe – and there’s a lot of advice and hype out there which can be confusing and the biggest factor – everyone is different! Did you know that the first ever running shoe appeared about 200 years ago?

In fact, research suggests that male runners are significantly more at risk of hitting the wall in marathons than females. This can be partly explained by the tendency of male runners to consistently overestimate their marathon abilities, leading to more aggressive and risky pacing strategies.

Studies have shown that incorrectly fitted shoes are associated with foot pain and foot conditions such as callus, corns and even toe deformity.

So, if you’re joining the expected 8-thousand runners come October, CSSM podiatrist Carmen Lim has taken all of the questions she gets asked about marathon footwear – from buying a second pair to buying brand new running shoes – here are her tips to ensure you put your best foot forward.

Features of supportive footwear:

  • Your shoe should bend only across where toes sit In the shoe, it should not bend through the arches (half-way through the shoe) otherwise you will overwork your arch muscles.
  • A rigid/ stable heel counter means the shoe won’t collapse easily, and ensure that you aren’t sliding back and forth in the shoe.
  • Appropriate width in the toe box region – you should be able to pinch a little bit of the mesh material between your fingers when you are standing up in the shoes as your feet always swell when running.
  • Half to a full thumb’s width from longest toe to end of the shoe to avoid black toenails and toenails from falling off.
  • Some runners have arch support and some don’t. Your gait would determine which type of runners you require. Get fitted at Active Feet, The Running Company or Athletes Foot to ensure that you are supported by the runners.
  • Comfort – if you try on a shoe and it’s not comfortable, it’s not going to be more comfortable when you are running.



Try  the “lock lacing technique” to prevent your ankle from slipping out of the shoes and to provide a little bit more ankle support whilst running.


Should I buy a second pair of shoes?

Getting another shoe to rotate during the marathon training is ideal because different shoes use different muscles of the body, decreasing the chances of getting injuries. Only do this once you’re confident you’ve found a great shoe.

It also increases your shoes’ life span by about double as it takes 24-48 hours for the foam to expand back to its original size after use.

On race day, you can choose the most comfortable shoe to wear.



Should I buy new shoes for the marathon?

NEVER wear brand new shoes for a marathon! Make sure you have worn them for a couple of weeks and have gotten used to them, otherwise you risk getting blisters, foot and leg pain. It’s like Goldilocks – not new, not old tired shoes, but just right!

A shoe usually lasts 800 kilometres or 9-12 months so ensure that you aren’t running in shoes that offer no more support as this would predispose you to getting injuries.


Sock suggestions

The Lace Lock (Heel Lock) Lacing Technique can help to prevent back-of-heel blisters and toenail blisters.


For more advice, a running gate analysis is an in depth examination into the way you run. Using a treadmill, high-speed camera and specialised biomechanical analysis software, your walking and running technique is assessed frame by frame to detect any biomechanical faults. Our experienced CSSM team can also assess your current footwear.

About the author

Podiatrist Carmen Lim has a comprehensive knowledge of feet and footwear. Carmen firmly believes that healthy feet equal a healthy life. As a podiatrist, she understands the vast range of musculoskeletal injuries that occur in the foot and leg and how to deliver the most appropriate and effective treatment approaches for each individual patient. By assessing the cause of pain and designing a treatment plan to prevent future problems, Carmen is motivated to improve every patients’ quality of life.

Whilst knowledgeable in all types of podiatric care, Carmen has a particular interest in sport related injuries and the relationship between foot mechanics and performance or injury.

An active sporting background developed a passion for biomechanics, giving Carmen the understanding of how injury can impact performance and the importance of an individualised treatment and rehabilitation program.