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Tips for A Successful NEW Running Shoe Purchase

By: Angela Joy

Whether you are new to running or have been running for years you have discovered that the shoes you wear are a hot topic.

A runner’s shoe has great influence on their form, stride and sometimes even running ability.

Whether you believe this to be true or not, running shoes have become incredibly popular, whether you are buying for looks, comfort, support or stability.

For those seeking to purchase their shoes in an effort to improve their stride and performance there are several tips that can assist you in making your decision.

SELECTING THE CORRECT RUNNING SHOE

Hundreds of athletic shoes are advertised and sold every day.

When choosing shoes there are many reasons why you may choose one shoe over another.

Some choices are made based off of the fit; some are based off of the color, while others are made based off of the amount of support (or lack thereof).

To determine which shoe is right for you it is best to seek out a running shoe specialist and/or podiatrist.

Either type of professional will conduct a gait analysis to determine what areas may need more or less support.

The professional will then provide you with a suggestion for the style, type and support level shoe that is best for you.

The reasoning for the gait analysis, and combined emphasis of running shoe importance is most believe that specific types of running shoes may aid in preventing common running-related injuries.

Runners seeking advice on proper shoe selection most often visit a specialty running shoe store or visit their podiatrist.

When visiting a running shoe specialist and/or podiatrist a gait analysis is often completed to determine the shape of the foot, height of the heel, landing of the foot and positioning of the foot when standing and running.

The gait analysis is often done on the ground or on a treadmill.

During the analysis, the shoe specialist and/or podiatrist will evaluate the runner’s foot and strike.

CHOOSING YOUR PERFECT RUNNING SHOE

As a runner you will soon learn that the sneakers you wear are a hot topic among other runners.

Proper running shoes are known to prevent common running injuries, overpronation (the internal rolling of the ankle), supination (the external rolling of the ankle), shin splints and tight Achilles tendons.

Running shoes seek to fit each runner’s specific needs based on their shoe size, speed, mileage, arch height, gait, and heel strike.

When seeking to choose the right fit there are several factors that should be considered.

Some common areas that running shoe specialists and podiatrists tend to focus on examining include the runner’s foot size and width, arch height, amount of ankle pronation, foot strike and stride, and how the shoe feels when worn.

SHOE SIZE AND WIDTH

A running shoe specialist will ask to determine your foot size and width.

Many people assume that they are the same shoe size in every shoe. However, many running shoes fit differently and often run large or small.

Therefore, it is best to undergo a proper foot size fitting before beginning to try on shoes.

Another factor that may also impact the foot size and width is the time of day you are trying on shoes.

Our feet tend to swell during a run due to the impact being placed on the feet.

At the end of the day our feet also tend to swell due to the walking conducted throughout the day.

As a result, it is suggested that a proper shoe fitting is conducted at the end of the day.

ARCH HEIGHT

The arch of your foot is a common location to examine when selecting running shoes.

The foot arch can either be high, neutral or flat.

The height of the arch can be determined during a full gait analysis.

For those seeking to determine their arch height at home the foot print test can be conducted.

Step onto a wet surface using a bare foot. Once the foot is wet, step onto a dry paper towel to create a foot print.

Once the footprint is created the arch height will be visible based on the amount of foot shown in the print.

Generally those with a low or flat arch are suggested to wear a supportive or stability shoe. It is suggested that those with a high arch wear a cushioned shoe.

This theory does not positively impact everyone; however it is commonly recommended in most running shoe stores and has been found to be beneficial to many runners.

The reason a flat-footed runner is often recommended a stability shoe is to control ankle overpronation, which is an inward rolling of the ankle as the foot strikes the ground.

High arches runners are generally recommended support to assist in an injuries that may occur due to the space between the foot and the shoe.

Supination, or the outward rolling of the foot opposite to overpronation, is also common among high arched runners. However, it is not always the case for all high-arched runners.

FEEL OF THE SHOE

Avoid becoming so caught up in choosing a motion controlled shoe versus a neutral shoe that you forget to try the shoes on and evaluate how they feel.

When trying on running shoes place them on both feet, walk in them, sit in them, and jog in them.

The way the shoe feels on your feet while you are running is a very important factor to ensure the shoes are right for you.

Therefore, before making your final purchase make sure the shoes feel secure and comfortable while running.

Choosing a shoe can be quite difficult. Try not to let the shoe’s colors or style take greater importance than the feel of the shoe when it is on your feet.

Also remember that not all recommendations are 100 percent true.

Each recommendation from a running specialist or podiatrist may be beneficial for some, but not for all.

The reason for this is that all people are different, therefore all feet are different. What may work for one person may not work for you.

Choose shoes that you feel are best for you and you will be sure to love your decision.

QUICK TIPS

Some tips to use when purchasing your next pair of running shoes;

  • make sure there is space between the end of your big toe and the front of the shoe
  • replace your shoes every 300 to 400 miles
  • ask for deals and/or discounts
  • avoid buying shoes that are too small regardless of how they look
  • make sure you love the shoes

INSPIRATION TO RUN!

This month’s inspiring quote is from the competitive American marathon runner Amby Burfoot.

“Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don’t have races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimist, and never, ever, ever giving up,” Burfoot once said.

The reason behind common running injuries

By: Angela Ciroalo

As a runner it is very common to develop aches, pains and even injuries.

These various aches and pains may be due to a number of causes such as; repeated overuse, improper shoes, overused shoes, improper form, running surface, and many others.

When an injury occurs it is best to confront the issue by examining the gait cycle of the runner.

A gait cycle begins when the foot lifts off the ground and ends when the same foot returns. Analyzing the gait cycle will reveal any issues that may be occurring between the foot and ankle during the landing and lift off of the foot.

The gait analysis is broken up into two phases; the stance phase and the swing phase.

The phase most commonly examined is the stance phase where pronation can be distinguished.

The stance phase includes the foot strike, the mid-stance of the foot, and the propulsion of the foot.

The type of gait that the runner displays may explain the reason behind the pain or injury the runner is experiencing.

The different types of gaits include neutral pronation, under pronation and over pronation.

Neutral pronation is normal and signifies that the runner’s foot is properly landing and lifting during each step of the gait cycle.

neutral

Neutral pronation occurs at a 15-percent inward rotation of the ankle.

The small degree of inward rotation is normal for the ankle and foot because it allows the foot to properly absorb the force of the foot strike and propulsion.

During neutral pronation the propulsion of the foot occurs amongst the two largest toes. Lift-off of the foot is best observed in this position due to the strength of these two toes.

Injuries are not associated with neutral pronation because neutral pronation is the optimal gait cycle of a runner.

Under pronation and over-pronation are associated with higher rates of injury due to the improper positioning of the foot and ankle during the gait cycle.

OVER PRONATION
Over pronation is the excessive pronation of the foot and ankle during the gait cycle.

During excessive pronation, the foot and ankle roll inward at an angle greater than 15-percent causing the arch of the foot to collapse upon landing.

Over pronation does not only affect the rotation of the foot and ankle, the inward rotation of the ankle further causes the lower leg, knee and hip to also internally rotate.

Due to the internal rotation of the entire leg limb, there is a much higher instance of experiencing running-related injuries.

Excessive pronation is most commonly recognized amongst runners who have little-to-no arch, or flat feet. However, it is also possible for over pronation to occur amongst those who have neutral and high arches.

Over pronation occurs due to lack of stability in the ankle and foot, which can occur regardless of arch type.

Common signs of over pronation include wear found on the lining of the inside of the shoe, wear found along the lining of the bottom of the shoe, in addition to the formation of foot calluses and foot bunions.

pronation defined

Each of the signs demonstrate the consistent force that internal portion of the foot has had with the shoe due to the excessive internal ankle rotation.

Common injuries associated with over pronation include plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, patella-femoral syndrome, shin splints, tarsal tunnel syndrome, and anterior compartment syndrome.

Fortunately, over pronation can be confronted.

Over pronation occurs due to the lack of stability in the ankle and foot, therefore a stability running shoe can aid in preventing over pronation.

In a stability show a medial post is used to provide stable ankle movement during the running process.

Another option over-pronators can try is the use of orthotic inserts or arch supports. Both options will provide ankle support in runners that will aid in preventing excessive pronation.

To prevent pain or tightness attributed to over pronation it is suggested that runners stretch the plantar fascia muscle under the foot, the Achilles tendon, as well as the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles.

To prevent over pronation from occurring runners can also try performing strength building ankle and foot exercises to create a natural stability in the ankle and foot.

Pronation supination

UNDER PRONATION
Under pronation is in fact the opposite of over pronation. Under pronation is the lack of inward rotation.

Under pronation occurs when the foot does not effectively roll inward upon landing causing the outside edge of the foot to absorb the landing of the foot instead.

During under pronation the foot rotates at an angle less than the 15-percent of neutral ankle pronation, creating an almost external rotation at the ankle.

During this process the smaller toes are then forced to support the propulsion of the foot as it lifts from the ground, opposed to the larger toes which were created for this purpose.

Similar to over pronation, the angle of the ankle and foot is irregular therefore the foot and ankle are not properly inline during the gait cycle.

The irregularity in the foot and ankle will then in-turn create irregularity in the entire leg limb.

Due to the outward rotation in the ankle and foot, the lower leg, knee and hip are forced to turn outward, causing a different variety of running-related injuries.

Common signs of under pronation include wear found on the external lining on the bottom of the shoe, tight Achilles tendons, heavy-footed running and high arches.

foot soleArches

Common injuries associated with under pronation includes iliotibial band syndrome, shin splints, ankle sprains, lower back pain, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, hip and heel stress fractures, knee, hip or ankle pain, and metatarsal stress fractures.

Fortunately, under pronation can also be confronted.

Due to the lack of flexibility in the foot and ankle it is suggested that an under-pronator run in a neutral shoe that does not offer stability.

An under-pronator requires a shoe that offers flexibility and promotes movement in the ankle creating neutral pronation and proper foot landing and propulsion.

Under pronators can also use orthotic inserts and arch supports to stabilize proper movement of the ankle during the gait cycle.

To address tightness caused by under pronation stretch is another important component.

Lower leg muscles, such as the soleus, gastrocnemius, the plantar fascia under the foot,  and the Achilles tendon should all be stretched.

To prevent under pronation from occurring runners can also try performing strength building ankle and foot exercises to create a natural stability in the ankle and foot.

Keep running

YOUR MOTIVATION
Though injury can be a hassle, it is important for runners to never lose sight of their goals. Do not allow a small speed bump ruin the entire ride.

Injuries can be healed. Imbalances can be strengthened. Improper form can be straightened.

Never lose sight of your goal. Stay committed to healing the injury and focus on improving your overall strength and health – and you will run your best.

Find motivation to run this month from the words of author Joyce Carol Oates, “Running! If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think of what it might be. In running the mind flees with the body, the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms.”

This article was previously published in Night & Day Magazine. 

Now I would love to hear from you!

  • Has this article been helpful to you?
  • Have you experienced any recent running-related injuries?
  • Do you feel that over or under pronation has impacted you and your running ability?
  • What is you experience with pronation?
  • I look forward to hearing from you!

❤ Blessings, joy & love,

Angela Joy

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