What should you look for in a running shoe? Something that’s comfortable, right? Well, that’s only partly true. Those old trainers you have in your wardrobe may feel comfortable for strolling around in, but running shoes needed to combine a large amount of cushioning with stability – otherwise you could find your new fitness regime is short-lived.
Injuries from running do not just come from trips and falls – in fact, most simply come from the act of running itself. It can take your body some time to adjust to being active after long periods of a more sedentary lifestyle, and those just getting into running often find their muscles are stiff or sore the day after exercising. This is normal, but while this is all going you could be doing more serious damage if your footwear is incorrect.
When you run, the foot goes through a process known as pronation. Your heel strikes the ground first, then as your weight moves forward along the outer edge of the foot, the foot should rotate inwards about 15 degrees, to spread that weight across to the ball of the foot and distribute it evenly. This should all mean that when the stride is completed, the weight is balanced and your leg and ankle are not slanted to one side. However, perhaps due to the shape of your foot, the style of your gait, bad technique or a combination of all three, people can naturally under or over-pronate. This means pressure is not distributed correctly which can cause pain in that area. Not only that, because all the parts of the leg work together when you run, incorrect weight distribution and shape in your foot can cause a knock-on effect – sore ankles, shin splints, knee and even hip problems. It has even been known for incorrect pronation to cause stress fractures just from running.
Having the correct running shoes can correct this by using higher or lower arches and advanced cushioning in certain areas to correct your pronation. This therefore means that choosing the right running shoes is a very important consideration in order to reduce your risk of injury.
If you have little experience with running shoes then you would be advised to speak to experts at specialist retailers, such as Up and Running. They will be able to assess your gait and pronation, and advise you on the correct running shoes to correct it. Alternatively, if you have some experience, this handy tool from Runners World allows you to input some of your preferences and receive some suggestions regarding suitable trainers.
Once you have the correct running shoes, don’t overlook the importance of the correct clothing. Cotton may be comfortable for lounging around in, but it retains moisture and becomes heavy and irritating to the skin – not ideal for running. Look instead to man-made fibres which wick sweat away from the body to keep you cool and comfortable.