Now that Spring has arrived, there is a real surge in people running, walking and enjoying the great outdoors.
The longer days and warmer weather make it much easier to get back into regular exercise!
However, running and walking may actually have a negative impact on your body – not just your feet – if you don’t know what to look for in running shoes.
Common questions include: Do I need professional shoe fitting? How often should I replace my running shoes? And which brands are the best?
Do I Need New Running Shoes?
Before you lace up your old faithful running shoes, consider if they are actually up to the task.
The Upper: Is the stitching coming apart? Are there any holes, or are your toes sticking out? Does the shape of the shoe look normal, or does it lean to one side (whether in or out)?
The Outer Sole: This is the treadlike layer on the bottom of the shoe, primarily used for grip and durability. Again, check for holes and signs of uneven wear.
The Mid Sole: The most important area of your running shoe however, is the part you can’t really see – the mid sole, which is usually made of EVA foam. Brands tend to use different names for this important layer: ASICS call it gel; Nike call it air; Brooks call it hydroflow – but essentially they all do the same thing.
The primary function of the mid sole is to absorb the shock of the foot as it strikes the ground; it is also designed to control the inward roll of the foot (or pronation as your local podiatrist is likely to call it). Pronation has been linked to conditions such as shin splints, kneecap problems, hip and lower back pain.
Unfortunately, the mid sole foam breaks down over time – as you clock up mileage, it becomes thinner and stiffer, losing its ability to control shock and the mechanics of your foot.
On the outside of your running shoe, the mid sole may be a different colour or pattern. If you notice any creasing, it may be time for a replacement.
Another way to test the condition of your mid sole, is how your shoes feel when you wear them. If you are running on the road or on gravel, and can feel that surface under your feet, the mid sole is tiring or has collapsed.
As a general rule, your local podiatrist will recommend that if you exercise regularly, you should look at replacing your running shoes on an annual basis.
What to Look for in Running Shoes
Tried and Tested: As with many things in life, tried and tested is best. If you have a brand that you are comfortable in, that you have been walking and running in without problems, then stick to it. Don’t change your running shoe because somebody in a shoe store or a certain brand is promoting something different.
Find an Assistant Familiar with your Sport: When you walk into a shoe store, try to find an assistant with relative knowledge. If you’re a runner, try to find a sales assistant who also likes to run. If you are a tennis or netball player – do they play tennis or netball?
Professional Shoe Fitting: Of course you won’t always be able to find help from somebody experienced in the same sport. However, you should make sure that your assistant measures the length and width of your feet with a Brannock, to get a truly professional shoe fitting.
Try Different Brands: Different brands cater for different foot dimensions, so again don’t get caught up in trends or marketing hype. Try on two or three pairs of shoes that offer the same features, and see which ones you think feel best, and most comfortable, under your feet.
If you are having problems with finding the right running shoe, your local podiatrist can help by looking into your specific needs and issues.
In the Redlands, Trevor Lane Podiatry is your local podiatrist, offering professional shoe fitting and footwear. Call us today on 3207 4736 for personal assistance with what to look for in running shoes.