Running shoes that fit well, support your feet and enhance your performance are the first pre-requisite of a running program.
Choosing a correct shoe for yourself is as much an art as it is a science and involves careful analysis of your individual requirement. Here we give you an insight into what all should you take into consideration before you pick up a pair of running shoes.
Running Shoes – Type of Foot
Every individual possesses a different set of characteristics, as far as the feet are concerned. The shape and structure of the foot goes a long way in determining the kind of shoe you need.
The Wet Test: Perform the wet test on your foot. Wet your foot and step on a piece of paper and trace your footprint.
Low arches: If your footprint reflects the entire sole of your foot almost in a single line, with no curve, it implies;
You have low arches or flat feet
- You tend to over-pronate .i.e. your feet roll inward
- Extra wear is caused on the outside of the heel and inside forefoot
- With this type of foot structure, you may need a shoe that has a motion-control feature and offers maximum support.
- High arches: On the other hand, if your footprint shows only a small portion of your forefoot and heel with a narrow connection between the two, it implies;
- You have high arches
- You have a tendency to under-pronate .i.e. your feet roll outward
- Maximum wear will be seen on the outer edge of the heel and the littletoe.
This type of feet may need cushioned running shoes, with a soft midsole.
- Neutral arches: If your footprint has a distinct curve along the inside, it implies;
- You have neutral arches
- Your shoes wear out in uniformity
- For this type of feet, you might need shoes with stability, offering the right mix of cushioning and support.
- Things to Remember
Apart from the basic structure of your foot, there are other factors you need to keep in mind while purchasing running shoes. The most important amongst them are:
- Measure your foot frequently as adults need to recheck their sizes at least twice a year. In addition,different brands often have different size standards.
- Shop in the later part of the day, as feet swell over the course of the day and hence the shoes that fit your feet when they are the largest are suitable.
Take your own socks along as you go over to shoe shops, preferably the ones you use while running. If you use orthotics, take them along too.
- Don’t go by the myth that shoes will be comfortable once they break in. Running shoes should feel comfortable right away.
Ensure a minimum space of 3/8 – 1/2 inch between the big toe and the end of the shoe (approx thumb’s width).
- The heel of the foot should fit snugly and not slip out when you walk or run. The upper part of the shoe should be secure, not too tight or pinching anywhere.
You should be feely able to wriggle all your toes when you wear your new shoe.
Watch out for special features like clear inserts, Freon and extra shock absorption, if your foot needs one.
If you normally find it difficult to find shoes that fit, opt for shoes that allow you to pump up the tongue.
An average pair of running shoes should be replaced after every 350-400 miles of use.
In addition, remember, there are different shoes for each of the sports activity. Make sure you go in only for running shoes and not walking or general athletic shoes.
Categories of shoes
Manufacturers normally categorize running shoes into three categories. Here we give a brief description of each of these categories:
i) Cushioning: These are the shoes, which have little lateral support. Cushioning shoes are good for runners who have neutral feet who do not require this kind of support. However, these shoes are not suitable for runners who tend to pronate or over-pronate.
ii) Stability: These shoes fall in the mid range and offer a balance between cushioning and motion control. This category of shoes are meant for runners who have a normal arch, lands on the outside and rolls forward. To start with, these shoes are a good choice if you are not aware which category you fall in.
iii) Motion control: This category of shoes is for runners who require strong support in their running shoe. Extreme pronators and over-pronators benefit largely from the Motion control shoe. Runners with weak ankles also benefit from this category.
Use of Orthotics
Orthotics are the devices that support or correct the function of the limbs and act as a supplement to the routine footwear.
Simple foot orthotics, such as custom-made shoe inserts, allow the muscles, tendons, bones of the feet and lower legs to function to their best capacity. In fact, correct use of orthotics can lead to a decrease in pain even in the other parts of the body such as the knee, hip and lower back.
Overall, these devices are known to increase joint stability, provide positioning and prevent a deformed foot from developing additional foot problems. Depending on your individual requirement, you should choose a carved mold or orthotic or one of the other types of available.
- Generally orthotics should be used along with your running shoes for one or more of the below functions:
- Reduce symptoms associated with foot pathologies
- Accommodating foot deformity
- Relieving pressure on specific foot area
- Improving overall biochemical function of the foot and lower extremity
- Provide better positioning
- Now you have read and understood this post, I have written a follow up to it, which hopefully will give you the information to be best placed to make a more informed choice when buying trainers. The follow on post can be found here. 🙂