Buying Running Shoes
Buying Running Shoes
A Simple Guide
So its summer, you decide to get back into shape, and you have heard the quickest way to burn those calories is to go for a run. So you run off to the most convenient sport shop in town and find yourself staring at the shoe wall. Confusion reigns, the wall has shoes with all sorts of technical features, stability, motion control cushioning, eva, adiprene,duomax, bmc, blah, blah, blah.
If you are confused about running shoes, join the club. Visit a specialist running shop for expert advice, but to ensure you are not bamboozled by the sales person, here is some info that could help you.
Before starting to run make sure that the shoes you wear provide the necessary cushioning and stability to ensure that injuries are prevented. Few activities put more stress on the feet and body than running. Finding a shoe that offers the cushioning and stability to match your running style and foot shape is essential not only to your comfort, but also your overall health. The wrong shoe can move the stress on your feet all the way up to the hips and the lower back, where it can cause serious problems.
There is no such thing as the best running shoe, there is only the best running shoe for you. Because each runner is unique in how much they train, and what their running style is, there is no “perfect” running shoe. The best running shoe for you depends entirely on the shape of your foot, your bio-mechanics and on the amount of running you do. Running shoes are designed to protect your feet from the road, provide traction on different surfaces, cushion the landing shock and support your feet. Not too much to ask, or is it?
Why buy a real running shoe?
Running shoes provide the best protection for your feet, legs and body from the repeated stress of thousands of foot landings per kilometre. Each time you take a stride and land, your foot has to absorb two to three times your body weight. This repeated impact is different from other sports. Running shoes have built-in features that enable you to run day after day more comfortably and with less chance of over-use injury. Some of the advantages of running shoes include superior cushioning, flexibility in the right places, stability or motion control, traction and breathability.
The first thing to do before buying a running shoe is to determine the shape of your foot. Yeh, it’s a smelly job, but someone has to do it. This is pretty simple; it can be done using the wet test. You can do this at home or any good sport shop would assist you with this procedure. Wet your foot and then step on a surface such as a tile or dark construction paper, which will show an imprint of your foot. The characteristic of the imprint will determine your foot type. Feet can easily be divided into three categories; low, high and neutral arches.
- Your feet are supinated if there is a large open area on the imprint where the arch of your foot didn't touch the ground
Low-Arched Foot/ Pronated
- Your feet are pronated if a complete impression of your foot can be seen
- Your feet are neutral/ideal if a moderate space is visible in the arch area
Now that you have determined your foot shape you will need to address the extent of your foot's movement. This is referred to as gait analysis and is performed using video analysis to assess specific points in the gait cycle. Your running gait is related to your foot shape as well as other biomechanics which may affect your running style, such as your weight and muscle composition. The best way to identify the correct shoe for you is to use a both the wet test and video analysis.
Your foot shape and its movement
The Normal Foot tends to land on the heel, then rolls inward (pronates) slightly to absorb shock. Runners with a normal foot and normal weight are usually considered biomechanically efficient and don’t require motion-control shoes. Stability shoes with moderate control features such as a two-density midsole or neutral/cushioning shoes are suitable. Look for a semi-curved or curved last to encourage foot motion.
The Flat Foot has a probability towards overpronation of the foot that strikes on the outside of the heel and rolls inward excessively; over a period of time this may lead to different types of overuse injuries. It is normally recommended to use motion-control or stability shoes with firm midsoles and control features that reduce the degree of pronation. Stay away from highly cushioned, curved-lasted shoes that lack stability and control.
The High-Arched Foot will leave an imprint with a very narrow showing between the forefoot and heel. A curved, high-arched foot is generally termed a supinated or underpronated foot; this means it normally isn’t an effective shock absorber. Cushioned shoes with plenty of flexibility to encourage foot motion are recommended. Stay away from motion-control or stability shoes that reduce foot mobility.
Your weight also plays a part in what shoe to purchase. If you are overweight then the necessity to buy shoes to suit you, right from the start, is very important. Take into account that the jarring and weight bearing exercise will be difficult for your body to adapt to, so help your body a bit by paying a little more for the protection it will need and deserves.
Trail shoes are designed for runners who participate more exclusively in off-road activities. These shoes may carry some extra bulk, but are made for more demanding conditions. These will have better traction on uneven and unpredictable terrain. The best trail shoes also provide excellent support needed for the unpredictable environment.
Determining your shoe size is essential for a comfortable fit. Do not assume that your shoe is the same that it always has been. The shape of your feet change over time. To ensure the correct fit, measure your foot size with a foot measuring device, such as the Brannock Device. As a control check allow a thumbnail's length of space between the top of your longest toe on your largest foot and the end of the shoe.
OTB Sport offers a complete range of running shoes, and offers expert advice with video gait analysis and foot measurement. OTB Sport also offers a wide range of running apparel and accessories that will ensure total running comfort all year round.