Do Shoes Matter?
If you run long enough, there’s almost a guarantee that you will pick up an injury along the way. Running comes with a laundry list of injuries including plantar fasciitis, shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, and iliotibial band syndrome (not to mention sprains and fractures!). Today we will explore the running shoe and its role in injuries and injury prevention.
Many Styles of Shoes
There are tonnes of trends within the running shoe industry — recently there has been more of a push for individualised shoes that match your running style. Runners with long strides can purchase traditional “heel-striking” shoes, which have more cushioning in the heel to absorb shock. Then there are shoes designed specifically for midfoot or forefoot strikers that provide more padding towards the front of the sole.
Interestingly, study after study has shown that there is no clear-cut winner when it comes to the perfect running style or shoe. Different running styles and stride lengths may predispose you to different types of running injuries, but the overall number of injuries are largely the same. Studies have also found that the “hardness” of the midsole (which come in a wide variety) does not appear to affect injury rates.
Picking a Shoe
So what’s important? First, it’s important to know what type of running you will be doing with your shoes. Do you mainly run on pavement? Do you trail run? Do your shoes double as your gym shoes? These are important differences that can lead you to a different shoe. Another important variable is how your foot moves when you run. Seeing as it’s almost impossible to watch your own feet while you run, grab an old pair of running shoes and take a look at the tread on the bottom. A quick web search will show you the difference between wear patterns (neutral pronation, overpronation, and supination). Knowing this can also help guide your shoe purchase.
Aside from this, just find something that feels great and fits comfortably (approximately one thumb-width of room at the toe). If you need additional help, seek out a local running store for more pointers, or read user reviews of shoes on online shoe retailers.