Running Shoes – Endless Choices?

So you’ve decided, “new year, new you”, and you are wanting to take up running, so you walk to your cupboard and notice you don’t have any running shoes… off to the shops you go.

Staring at the shelves of shoes, you’re so confused, do you go with Asics, New Balance, Saucony, Puma, Nike (and the list continues)? Do you choose the ones with the most colourful design, or do you choose the more practical shoes, that will go with any of your running outfits?

There are a few things we need to understand about how we run before we buy any shoes, but there are some baseline rules. So what are the Baseline rules? (let’s start with these)

  1. Go for a neutral shoe – unless you are overweight or have been diagnosed, by a podiatrist as having over-pronating or supernating feet, go with neutral.
  2. Make sure you’re choosing the right shoe for the type of terrain you will be running on – road (lighter shoes and withstand continual impact with hard ground) or trail (more ankle support, thicker soles and more traction)
  3. Make sure the shoe fits – the wrong fit can result in many problems, ranging from blisters and chafing, to sprained ankles or knee pain

Did you know that during running, you subject your feet to approximately 2.5 times your body weight with each stride? As a result, it’s important to understand the different factors involved in finding the right shoes for you – buy the correct shoes, and save your feet.

What injuries can one get from running/walking?

Generally, our feet move in a neutral motion, called pronation; sometimes our feet over-pronate or supinate. When our feet over-pronate or supinate, injuries are most likely to occur.

Over-pronator injuries:

  • Achilles tendonitis (inflammation of the achilles tendon)
  • Arch pain
  • Knee pain
  • Rigid big toe and sesimoiditis (inflammation of tendon running over the sesimoid bones in your feet)
  • Hip and lower back pain

Supinator injuries:

  • ITB syndrome
  • Plantar Faciitis (inflammation of the facia of the plantarflexors in the foot)
  • Achilles tendonitis

So, what does pronation, over-pronation and supination look like? And, how can one tell if one is neutral, over-pronating, or supernating?

Ever listened to your grandparents or parents talk about their experiences as a kid, and you learn an ounce of a lesson from their experiences? Well, your old running shoes tell a similar story…

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Some of you may already be running and are due for new running shoes, and may be wondering, “I’ve been happy with my shoes so far, do I really need new ones?”. Yes, but no :). The reason for the Yes – you should be replacing your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles (482 to 805 km); however, this does vary according to each person. It is dependent on the persons build, running style and training load. But in general, the closer you get to 300 miles (482 km) start breaking in a new pair. Why did I say no? well it’s simple: “why fix something if it’s not broken” – not literally, what I am implying is, if the shoe that you’ve been running in has caused you no problems, keep going back to the same brand, make and model of the shoe, if you know you’re going to be doing high mileage, buy the same shoe twice :). Sometimes the make and model may no longer be on the shelves in the shops, then go for the updated version of said shoe – don’t jump brands because you like how they look. Although we are only human and are attracted by pretty colours, please don’t choose a shoe based on that.

Although running could be considered a “cheaper” sport – you will need to pay a little extra for a good pair of running shoes, and if you get caught up in the fitness watches trend, it can become quite an expensive endeavour. But the health benefits of running are so immense that it sort of makes it a little easier to buy the running shoes ;). So what are these health benefits… well I’ll cover these another time :).

If you are still uncertain, go to your local running shoe store to find out if they do video analysis. I can provide personal accounts for two places in KZN, namely Durban Runner and Poobie Naidoos (PMB), the guys that work there are truly “jacked up” and know their stuff – quite a few are runners themselves – and are very clued up in giving you the best advice to find the right shoe for you.

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