Jul 26 , 2018

Read This before you buy - you may save yourself a lot of expense and time off with injuries

We weren't built to run. Let's face it - we take our body for granted. And when the foot hurts, you hurt all over. It tends to affect elsewhere and we go off stride. 

Most runners wait until they get injured before thinking about their feet, whether they have the right shoes or the shoes are worn out etc.  The things that happen to runners are transmitted from the feet up and are almost always the result of the multiple stresses of running.  Because many running injuries come from this source they are preventable. Shoes can be the cause and the cure.  

Many of the running shoes on the market are not well designed i.e. un-supportive, too high,  inflexible, or have some new annual marketing design ploy that looks or sounds good in theory but can turn out to be a disaster in practice. In my clinic I have seen a huge amount of bad shoe designs that caused injuries. Plastic inserts placed inside ,outside, underneath front or back in theory the story sounds good, hyped up minimalist shoes ,barefoot type shoes, dropped heel shoes, bevelled heels etc all flooded the market. Where are they all now? None lived up to the claims and some have been sued in the U.S. for causing injuries.

To make the right shoe selection here is some advice:

  • Correct shoe size length - allow for a thumb width between the end of the big toe and the end of the shoe. 
  • Heel height adequate (but not too high!) excessive or over compensating height can weaken muscles, also cause calf cramp or overcompensate the Achilles tendon leading to injury.
  • Heel cushion (but not too soft) too soft on landing can cause joint instability, like an underinflated tyre.
  • Heel stability (firm and not soft) support around the heel needs to be firm preferably with a little padding.
  • Arch support helps protect under the foot flexor tendons, assists stability and improves running efficiency.
  • Forefoot cushion, good shock absorption helps prevent injury.
  • Forefoot flexibility, an inflexible shoe may cause Achilles tightness, (always bend and flex a new shoe before using it). 
  • Toe clearance, allow for plenty of toe room to avoid blisters or toe nail problems.
  • Comfort, allow for some foot movement in the shoe especially for downhill running or racing.
  • Shock absorption, inadequate shock dispersion can lead to bone jarring and muscle tension. Try to test run in the shoe shop to get the feel for good shock absorption. 
  • Select a lightweight shoe for racing or heavier for training especially if over 90kg body weight and off road design for tracks
  • In the end the 'X' factor or landing movement may determine if extra support is needed in a running shoe, on the inside foot rear foot for pronation or forefoot outside for supination. 
  • So which brands are best?
  • "Asics" suits narrow feet especially with women.
  • "New Balance " suits medium width and wide feet
  • "Nike" are suited to high arch or curved feet.
  • and to avoid achilles tendon problems avoid all shoes with bevelled heels
  • Winter running: muscles and tendon are more injury prone in cold conditions, avoid anklet socks and use longer socks up to at least calf height.
  • "Shoe replacement time", studies have shown approximately after 9 months of running 5 days a week shoes should be replaced or at least examined for excessive wear in the heel or forefoot.
  • Work shoes for men and women. Don't always let fashion determine your shoe. I have seen many foot problems from women who ignore pain signals that ultimately lead to chronic injury. And men who wear rigid, non-supportive, inflexible, non-cushioned shoes that eventuate in hip, back or knee problems Rockport, New Balance and Asics provide shock absorbing business shoes and are recommended for men
  • Foot care and maintenance: The foot takes all of your body weight, a little care and attention can make a big difference. 

The Foot Needs:

  • Regular 3x weekly self massage using a golf ball for 1- 3 minutes
  • Regular 5x5 weekly calf raises to strengthen the foot muscles and tendons.
  • Ankle rotations 5x clockwise and anticlockwise
  • Meths application or spray skin  prior to long runs or racing prevents blisters. 
  • Baby powder application prior to long runs or racing prevents friction + burning. 

NOTE - If you are a runner and want to stay injury free, avoid flat jandals without an arch, as they have absolutely no support and can eventually cause multiple injuries in the long term.