Some of you may know that at LFR we now run periodic podiatry sessions from the clubhouse on a club night. The aim of such sessions is primarily about raising awareness of running gait and the biomechanics of running and how this can impact you. With the plethora of running shoes available today, and the constant sales that seem to exist on the internet, its sometimes tempting to pick up any pair of shoes on the internet, because they are cheap, or because the colour or style suits us and try them out. What can go wrong? They were cheap, so I couldn’t resist!
The truth is that all of us have very individual biomechanics and running styles and this places particular needs on the type of running shoes appropriate for us. The right running shoes for us, may not be those appropriate for someone else and this is what the podiatry sessions tries to uncover.
There’s no single 'best shoe' – everyone has different needs. All sorts of things - your back, hips, knees, ankles and feet all play a part as does your weight, the surfaces you run on, and the shape of your feet. Obviously then, one person's ideal shoe can be terrible for another person.
Running shoes are typically categorized in the following ways:
Stability: Recommended for runners who are mild to moderate over-pronators and who generally have low arches. In laymen’s terms this means people with ‘flat feet’ . The stability is there essentially to control the foot as it hits the ground and stop it from rolling over as you then progress through the running movement. Do you need stability shoes? Well typically if you do mildly over-pronate and you only run very low mileage, then this could be a personal choice, but as mileage starts to increase you might typically expect blistering, sores and aches and niggles as you run more. Stability (sometimes known as motion control) shoes can help with that.
Performance/minimalist: Recommended either for racing or, if you’re biomechanically efficient, for training. They have varying degrees of support and cushioning, but often feel close to the ground and they’re generally lighter and narrower than other running shoes. What does biomechanically efficient even mean then? Well this is how runners who have a running gait where the back, legs and feet are all as close to perfectly aligned as possible for the job of running and the running gait requires no alteration or support. This is really only a minority, the vast majority of runners are not biomechanically efficient.
Neutral: Typically for runners who want maximum midsole cushioning and minimum support. So essentially you need to cushion the blow as the foot hits the ground, but don’t need to control the rolling of the foot with support in the shoe. Again its about how biomechanically efficient you are. Some shoes are now even taking the amount of cushioning to another level, such as the Hoka one, with some describing them as like running on air. The amount of cushioning will always be personal preference but the key is to pick a pair that doesn’t negatively impact your running gait. In other words your shoes could in theory change the way you run, and this may not be a good thing, depending on your needs.
The best bet is to have your running gait analysed in a running store where the best shoes can be advised for you. However bear in mind that what is often overlooked is how far and how often you run and if you race, regularly. For example if you normally require support shoes it may be ok to occasionally run in performance shoes or minimalist shoes for short races, but again, the right analysis can tell you if that’s something that’s applicable or not.
The bottom line is that people run for a variety of reasons, but no-one likes getting injured. Without the right shoes, at some point you risk injury and side-lining yourself. Maybe not immediately but at some point, so the right choice of shoes becomes a question of ‘do I want to keep running’ ? if so, get the right shoes.
So this is what the podiatry sessions are about, if you’re interested why not come along to the next one!