A running shoe’s purpose is to protect the foot and to achieve your maximum potential while running. There are some great runners and some may even say legends from Ethiopia and Kenya that run barefooted but for most runners in the west we must wear running shoes. A general purpose trainer is exactly what the name suggests; it can be used for all types of sports. Sports specific shoes are essential and in the case of runners a cross trainer is ideal.
The general concept of the running shoe is that it should facilitate horizontal running. Running shoes usually have a slightly larger toe box to accommodate the increased pressure on the mid foot during the running stride. Most running shoes have a slight heel raise to reduce stress on the lower leg and increase ankle stability. Greater shock absorption and medial posts (arch support) are also a feature of many running shoes.
Research suggests that you have a 1 second per mile improvement for every ounce less of running shoe you use. This can help many runners achieve personal bests but if you have a biomechanical complaint or are prone to injury than the lighter running shoes may cause further problems. The lighter running shoes are usually racing shoes. Do not wear racing shoes for races only as this can lead to a running injury. An important point to remember is that racing shoes are lighter but have less shock absorption and stability.
• Go to specialist running stores. I have personally found that the level of advice and the quality of the shoe is much greater in comparison to a high street sports shops.
• Wear the same socks that you intend to run in for a proper fitting.
• Buy your running shoes later on in the day when your foot is at its widest. The human foot tends to expand by a few millimeters and in some people it can expand up to 2cm at the end of the day.
• Get your feet measured every time you buy running shoes.
• Change your running shoes after 350-400 miles as the mid sole and the heel begins to degenerate. The shoes can still be worn for causal wear but are not suitable enough for the pressure of running.
• Make sure you have a finger width of span at your great toe in the box of the shoe. This simple technique will insure that you do not damage your toes while running.
• Do not buy shoes that are too loose or constrictive in width or length.
• Insure you have strong laces for your running shoes. Do not tighten your laces too tightly or too loosely as this can result in a loss of stability and over pronation (foot imbalance).
• CARDINAL SIN - Do not wear new running shoes for a race; always ensure that you run at least 100 miles in them before you run a race or a long run.
It is normal to have shoe wear on the outer aspect of the heel but if you have shoe wear on the inner heel than this must be examined by a sports podiatrist. The runner may have severe over pronation which can lead to conditions such as heel spurs, achilles pain, shin pain, knee pain, quadricep pain and other running injuries. Most short distance runners will show greater forefoot wear as there is more pressure being applied to this area. Uneven shoe wear in the fore foot area may be characteristic of a condition called forefoot varus (over pronation). Excessive shoe wear on the lateral (outer) aspect of the fore foot and heel area can be a result of a rarer condition called over supination.
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