We come across various runners who face different challenges on different tracks and distances. Some feel pain in the arch, have a blue toenail, pain in the toes, blisters, and much more. Most of the issues are linked to choosing the wrong shoe type and size. However, most of us once buy a shoe we try and adjust with that as it is not something we can change every day. So it becomes essential to choose the shoe carefully.
Type of Shoes
We are not talking about the brands but the type of shoes generally used for running. There are a large number of considerations when we look at the shoe. Let us list them.
- Narrow toe/ broad toe
- Soft and flexible sole/ thick and ridged sole
- Easy twisting movement/ restricted twisting movement
- Large back rest for heal/ low back
- Arch support/ flat in-sole
- Fabric used (breathable/ water proof)
- Lace height ( high knot/ normal knot)
- Extra strap available to reduce foot movement
- Sole thickness
- Cushioning ( in-sole and outer sole)
- Bounce effect of outer sole
- Weight of the shoe
Before we choose a shoe, we need to analyze our foot, running pattern, and requirements. Points to be considered are:
- Arch (Flatfoot, mid or high arch)
- Broadness of the toe (narrow/ normal/ broad)
- Arc of toe figures from big figure to small figure
- Age of the runner
- Running track (mud track, synthetic, road, trail)
- Training effort
- Distance or event
- Level ( professional/ motivational/ hobby)
How to Choose a Shoe
Most runners learn to pick the correct shoe by trial and error. In this, we lose a lot of years and have to undergo some injuries too. However, once we know how to analyze our foot and running requirements, we can make certain choices and narrow them down to a few. There are fewer chances of error or an injury. Unfortunately, despite calculated selection, few runners do have to change to avoid discomfort and injury. Do not hesitate to change the shoe if your body asks for it.
To understand how to choose a shoe we will take a few examples. Working on a similar approach, one can reach a correct conclusion.
Flat foot – A flatfoot needs medium arch support. This arch support forces the foot to have a temporary arch when a shoe is worn. This leads to a reduction in injuries related to flat feet.
Medium or high arch – Arch support of appropriate height is a must. Without the arch support, the arch while under stress may cause the foot to move more forward. Also, any reduced space may cause mid-foot pain and injury.
Running track – Running on-road or hard track is most traumatic to the shin and joints. Cushioning and bouncing are welcomed. However, for trail running, we require a shoe that provides better balance and allows our body weight and foot to do repeated adjustments. Track running requires the least movement of our foot, especially on the turns. Also, the inside of the foot while turning requires more support to restrict ankle dip towards the inside of the track.
Age – As we age, our arch becomes lost, and hence arch support is a must. We may slow down as we age, however at the same time we also become more prone to injuries. Hence a cushioned, well-supported shoe is always good.
The shape of the foot – Those who have broad front feet must try and take 0.5 size up. This will prevent blue toenails and toe pain while running. However, people with narrow toes if choose the upper size may lead to unnecessary foot movement causing blisters.
Training load – One should have different shoes for different training requirements. A hard less twisting sole on a slow pace day is god. However, on race day or a high load training session, we need a shoe with a flexible sole.
Distance – For longer distances, a more comfortable and breathable shoe is required. A lower size may restrict foot expansion when the arch is under stress causing early fatigue and pain. A higher size may lead to unnecessary friction leading to heat burns and blisters.
Fitting – Generally a shoe takes a few runs to adopt our foot structure. However, when you buy ensure no nail is touching the front fabric of the shoe. Also, there is a small distance maybe of 0.5 t 1 cm ahead of the big nail. The lacing from the side must be from mid of the fabric so that shape adoption is better. Front lace should have space to tighten or loosen the shoe. There is a second stabilizing hole on the top which may be optional but having it is an advantage. A strap to further reduce foot movement is welcomed. Once you wear the shoe, check if you can move your heel up by at least 45 degrees while having your toe on the ground. A good cushioning of the heel for those who have heel strike issues is excellent to avoid related injuries. The bouncing effect for road runners is good to have a faster pace and more cushioning.
Take Home Message
Do not just simply see an advertisement and buy a shoe. Analyze your foot first. Also, check your training requirements and then go for trial. Ensure you have a return policy when you buy online. Buying a 0.5 size up when confused is a better option.
Article by: Capt Jitender Harjai Fitness Expert H2F Care