If the shoe fits – how to find the right runners for your feet
Have you remembered? Sign up to this year’s City2Surf here.
Diet? Check. Weeks of preparation building up resistance and stamina? Check and check. Correct shoe for your foot to reduce the risk of injury and increase comfort and performance?
Can I get back to you on that one?
There are plenty of hot tips and handy hints on how to best prepare for the City2Surf this weekend. But all the carb loading and hours spent getting into peak mental condition won’t be worth much if you neglect the hardest worker – your feet.
Whether you’re just starting out or a hardened professional – the right pair of running shoes can be the difference between gliding across the finish line or hobbling along, blister-ridden with ankles screaming in agony.
That may have been an exaggeration, but the fact remains that protecting your feet by choosing quality, comfortable footwear can have long-term benefits on top of the more short-term personal best. A fact Erin Todd, a sports podiatrist at Sydney East Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics (SESMO) would agree with.
“As a runner the most important equipment you have is your running shoes,” she tells Juice Daily.
“Wearing the correct shoe can make running a lot more comfortable and enjoyable and if you get your shoe choice wrong it can lead to the risk of injury and pain. Each individual running shoe will support a different foot type, correct fitting and the right shoe type for you is key.”
But just because the shoe fits, doesn’t necessarily mean you should wear it.
What’s in a (brand) name
It can be easy to buy into the brands based on either celebrity endorsement or flash colours – heck, I’ve done it plenty of times – but the real test is what they do once they’re on your feet.
“The big brands do fantastic running shoes,” says Todd.
“However, just because a particular shoe is on the feet of a celebrity or a very fast runner does not mean you will run fast or be injury free in that shoe. This is where having an understanding of your particular foot type and what shoe best suits that is very important.”
And this means checking for several key points:
- Comfort, obviously
- Fit – running shoes aren’t meant to be too loose but they should also be roomy enough to accommodate swelling
- Compensate for physical characteristics like high arches or rolling ankles.
This last detail is often one of the most overlooked in favour of aesthetics, especially if we’re taking our first steps on the running track.
You’re either in or out
“Ideally, you would get a biomechanical assessment with an experienced sports podiatrist to ascertain the right shoe for you,” say Todd.
“Generally speaking there are three different foot types: a pronated foot (rolling in) a supinated foot (rolling out) and a neutral foot. If you have a pronated foot type you may need a bit more medial support. However it must be noted that this is all depending on your training and injury history.”
To break this down a little more, feet with normal pronation would do best in a stability shoe that offers moderate pronation control such as the Asics Nimbus or the Mizuno Enigma; runners who overpronate (rolls inward) should choose motion-control shoes that control pronation such the Nike Zoom Structure. Runners who underpronate (roll outward) should get a neutral-cushioned shoe such as the Brooks Glycerin to encourage a more natural foot motion.
Game, set and track
The kind of terrain you intend to run along also plays a big part in the style you should choose.
- Shoes designed for running along roads, where there are little irregularities, tend to be light and flexible while cushioning feet against hard surfaces.
- Trail-running shoes for off-road tracks come with deeper tread for better traction and extra stabilisation and support.
For the hard-roads of Heartbreak Hill and Sydney’s leafy Dover Heights, Todd recommends sticking to standard lightweight styles.
“Regular running shoes will have perfect soles for City2Surf. Trail running or walking a different sole is needed and can very much help your performance and level of comfort.”
Stretch and strenghen
But even the most technically advanced footwear in the world won’t help if you’re not prepared to do the manual work required to keep your feet in tip top shape. Regular stretching, warm-up exercises and stabilising exercises will make all the difference to both your race endurance and recovery time.
“Your gastroc/soleus (calf and lower calf) complex, I believe, is the key to your foot and lower limb injury prevention,” says Todd.
“Therefore calf raises are a must. You need to have strong calf and lower calfs. Practice perfect form calf raises regularly or if you are unsure, seek the advice of a sports podiatrist for a more specifically strengthening program for your foot type and current performance and running ability.”
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