Have you started jogging again? Check your shoes first.
As a keen runner, it’s great to see the increase in outdoor exercise that’s happening since social isolation began. Keeping active during this period of lock down is important for our physical and mental health.
But what about your shoes? With gyms closed there are more runners hitting the streets and parks, but our footwear may not be supporting us with all this high impact activity.
The average running shoes last between 700 to 900 kilometres. That may seem like a lot, but if you run 10 kilometres three times a week this is only about seven months. Running shoes break down quickly, because the midsole of the shoe becomes too soft and collapses easily under pressure.
I like to think of running shoes like the foundation of your house. If your house is built on unstable soft ground then it tends to move and cracks start to develop in the walls. This is the same for your body, when shoes are not supporting your feet correctly, it can lead to a misalignment of you lower legs which can radiate in to your hips and lower back. By not having the correct supportive footwear for extra walks around the block or a jog, it could be creating or exacerbating soft tissue injuries in your legs, hips, and lower back.
So what are the best running shoes?
There is no easy answer for this, as we are all different. Just because you see someone recommending a shoe on social media doesn’t mean you should jump online and purchase it. Our feet and lower limbs all function slightly differently. This can also change over time as bodies strengthen, or injuries alter lower limb function.
There are many different types of running shoes that provide different levels of support or stability. Let’s go through some of the words you need to know when investing in good running shoes.
The amount of pronation you have will affect the type of shoe you need to purchase. Pronation is the body’s natural shock absorption in your feet.
This is seen by flattening of the arch and rolling in of the heel and midfoot. It can be classified as under, neutral, or over.
Under-pronation: This is seen when you run on the outside of the foot with a very high arch, you need a more cushioning shoe to avoid strong impact and reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries.
Neutral: There is some pronation, though the push off phase of running is distributed evenly through the front of the foot.
Over-pronation: Weight tends to move over to the inside of the foot and push off tends to be just through the big toe, there is a low arch type or no arch at all. Sometimes you will also see rolling in of the knees. You will need a stability or motioned controlled shoe.
Here are the types of running shoes.
- This type of shoe is best suited to people who fit into the under-pronation or neutral foot type. The shoe consists of the same density of cushioning throughout the shoe, so they do not provide any additional resistance to stop your feet from rolling in. Secondly, they tend to have a curved or semi-curved sole this means that the sole of the shoe does not contact the ground all at once, this is designed for faster running.
- These shoes provides slightly more support to prevent your feet from rolling. This tends to be achieved by making the mid-foot of the shoe wider, so it becomes more stable.
Motion control shoes:
- Provide the greatest amount of support, have a piece of higher density foam in the inside of the midfoot and heel of the shoe to prevent the foot from rolling in.
So how do I know what shoes to get?
The best way to determine what sort of shoe you need is to have a gait analysis carried out. This can be done by either a podiatrist or a specialist running shoe shop.
If you have any sort of lower limb injury, it is always best to get advice from a podiatrist first, to work out additional treatment options to get you moving effectively again.
The great thing during this time is that many podiatrists are still open for business. Most are offering telehealth consultations, so you can get your injuries dealt with and you can get back on your feet again.
There are also several online surveys from running shoe companies. These have been developed to help people gain an idea of what sort of shoe may suit their foot. However, there’s nothing better than having someone analyse how your foot is functioning in each shoe, how you’re running in them and which pair you prefer.
About Celia Jackson:
Celia Jackson graduated as a podiatrist in 2010 from Queen Margaret University in Scotland. She made Australia home in 2015 and worked in private practice until joining HealthStrong in 2018, which is part of Medibank.
Celia is a regular runner and lover of hilly, rough trails similar to the terrain of the Lake District in the UK where she grew up. Now, Celia escapes to Victoria’s high country to explore Australia’s endless kilometres of bushland.
As a podiatrist, her interest is in the technical aspect of running shoes, and the impact on performance. The technology that companies are using to improve and develop footwear is constantly changing, so understanding this is important when recommending shoes to clients.
Part of Medibank, HealthStrong is a leading national provider of mobile allied health services.
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