Buying the correct running shoe is essential to help maximise your running performance, fitness level and keep injury free. The correct advice and recommendations by a skilled clinician will allow the runner to purchase a pair of running shoes that offers the sufficient level of shock absorption, cushioning, support and control.
The design and support offered by each running shoe differs and each effective shoe fitting must correspond to the following for each individual:
- Body weight
- Foot type & function (e.g. flat feet & over-pronation)
- Pre-existing & current injuries related to running (e.g. shin splints & knee pain)
- Pre-existing & current medical conditions (e.g. diabetes & arthritic conditions)
- Individual personal training programmes
- Prospective running events and races
- Level of running ability
- Frequency & intensity of training sessions
- Distance of running sessions
- Speed of running sessions
- Running terrain (e.g. tracks, road or grass)
- Running gradients (i.e. extent of any hills)
Therefore, the chosen and recommended running shoe will help to maximise performance, reduce the risk of overuse injuries and minimise biomechanical associated problems.
Over-pronation is a term that is used to describe the excessive inward rolling of the foot during the gait cycle. Pronation is a normal movement that takes place during walking and running but many different factors can contribute to over-pronation. Such action may exert excessive stress and tension on various parts of the body subsequently leading to an injury.
The common types of running shoe are outlined below but it is also important to understand that the each running shoe may also differ in size, width and shock absorption qualities:
Neutral Running Shoe – designed for those who have a neutral running style and do not over-pronate during the gait cycle. Such runners normally possess good arches in their feet and do not require added stability in their running shoe.
Stability Running Shoe – designed for those who require mild to moderate stability whilst running. Such runners usually have a tendency to over-pronate and may possess flattened foot arches.
Motion Control Running Shoe – designed for those who require a high level of control and stability whilst running. Such runners may show a moderate to severe level of over-pronation during the gait cycle and possess a considerable amount of flattening of the foot arches. These shoes provide a high level of support and rigidity.
The above guidelines regarding the reasoning behind the selection of the different types of running shoe is not entirely accurate. All of the many varied foot types function differently between individual people. Therefore, a recommendation to see an experienced physiotherapist or podiatrist who specialises in lower limb biomechanics and foot function is highly advisable.
It is important to note that not all running shoes offer the correct form of control nor adequate level of support. Some runners require an additional form of support inserted into their running shoes in the way of an orthotic or heel wedge. A skilled physiotherapist will advise and provide an onward referral to a podiatrist if orthotics are recommended.
For the most accurate selection of running shoe and possible orthotic intervention, it is recommended that a specialist who has undertaken an adequate amount of training and has a clear understanding and knowledge about running and associated injuries conducts a motion running gait analysis. This will allow the specialist to observe and analyse the client’s running motion, running style, lower limb activity, muscle recruitment and to identify any significant actions during the gait cycle that may potentially predispose the client to any form of injury. This may be done with the visual eye during running outdoors or the use of a treadmill using video gait analysis technology. However, each running style may differ when running on a treadmill compared to running naturally outdoors and therefore this factor is important to take into consideration as part of an accurate gait analysis and a true reflection of their running style.
If you have any queries or would like to arrange a full biomechanical examination, gait analysis or a foot type assessment please feel free to contact the Manchester G4 Clinic to speak to a member of the team.