I had an opportunity to sit down with the store manager and shoe manager of Luke's Locker, a specialty running store. The partnership between a good running store and their clients is a vital one. They're the ones that stay on top of the new shoe styles, monitor changes and "upgrades" and can best identify when a shoe is not appropriate for a particular runner.

Staying on top of changes in running shoes is tough. Most shoe companies will "upgrade" a shoe as often as twice a year. Why the quotes? Well an upgrade may end up being an entirely redesigned shoe with a new last but with the same name. While it may have been the right shoe for you at one time, it no longer may fit right once it was updated.

Most podiatrists are unable to keep up with the constantly changing variety of shoes. Since I see lots of runners, triathletes, and other athletes, I do my best to stay abreast of changes, but I often refer to the experts. A specialty running store has knowledgeable managers who educate their salespeople as to the appropriate shoes for foot types. Some even bring in podiatrists and other experts into their stores to run workshop for their sales staff and even for their customers.

A properly fitting shoe is vital to foot health in general, but especially if you're involved in an exercise program. Proper shoes can not solve all foot problems but they're an important step to providing the environment that will be most helpful in healing many foot issues.