When I first took up running eleven twelve years ago, I followed the advice in my running book and went to a running store to get fitted for the best shoe for my feet. Three years ago, when I started running after a few years off, I went and got fitted again. My body has changed after three babies and the shoes are getting better and better every year. The clerk had me try on a few pairs of shoes -- based on the terrain I run -- and watched my gait as I walked across the room in each pair. The ones she chose are the ones that felt best to me, and that I buy anew every six months or so.
My running partner has been out with a bad back and as part of her rehab, she has been told that she needs to get a proper shoe fitting. She's always purchased shoes that were a good brand name, but went with what's on sale. I don't blame her -- who would? -- but she now realizes that those saved pennies are not worth her pain or the fact that she's unable to even walk long distances or hike with her family.
(Pro tip: Once you've been fitted and bought your shoes, there's nothing wrong with getting your next pair of shoes online to save some -- or a lot -- of money.)
I think that if you're consistently active -- be it running, walking, or hiking -- you should be fitted for proper shoes. I got fitted for shoes to wear to my fitness class as well, because strength work is different than running.
Have you been to get your shoes fitted? Do you believe that it's helped you?