Whether you’re training for a race or just a regular road runner, wearing a good pair of trainers can be the difference between breaking a new PB and breaking a part of your body - find the correct pair, and it can work with your natural biomechanics, helping to boost your running efficiency and maximise comfort and support. However, wear the wrong pair, and you run the risk of experiencing a range of serious injuries including achilles tendonitis, shin splints and knee and hip pain.
Probably the most important thing to realise when picking out running trainers is that there’s no single 'best shoe' – everybody has different needs. Everything from your individual biomechanics, your weight, the surfaces you run on, and obviously, the shape of your feet mean that one person's ideal shoe could be another person's nightmare.
To help ensure you kick off your 2015 running regime with a #StartBetter bang we reached out to Mark Gallagher, expert Podiatrist for Pure Sports Medicine , to discover what top tips he advised for picking out the perfect trainers to both maximise your performance and minimise the risk of injury.
It sounds basic but one of the key features in finding a good running shoe is the fit. The last fitting or upper fit needs to be relatively snug - a running shoe that is too big will allow the foot to shear (slide) in the trainer, which will increase the risk of blistering on the foot. Similarly, a trainer that is too small will add compression (squeezing) force on the foot and increase the risk of bone injury.
Those dreaded toenail problems that result in bleeding or bruising underneath the nail plate can also be caused by poor fit, so it’s worthwhile seeking advice from a healthcare professional with a special interest in foot problems if this is occurring.
2. Heel Height
The heel height, referred to as the ‘pitch’ or ‘drop’ can range from 0-14mm on any trainer and as a general rule of thumb, the stiffer the ankle joint (the closer to the wall your toe is on a Lunge test) the more relevant a running trainer with a higher heel drop will be.
Lunge test, which provides useful information for choosing a shoe with an appropriate heel height or drop.
There is no straight forward answer here but conventional thinking suggests that a good running shoe should have ample cushioning to absorb shock. However, there are also advocates who argue in favour of minimalist running shoes that have almost no cushioning. No data exists to say which type of shoe is better, but if you choose a cushioned shoe, look for overall shock absorption for the foot.
It’s important to consider the type of surface you run on and the compatibility of the outsole. You might not have been aware but there are key differences in the type of outsole that is used for road trainers and other terrain suited types. Those of you that have ever run on a surface with the wrong outsole may recall sliding around, which over a prolonged period of time can increase the risk of soft tissue injury.
5. Motion control
Footwear can often be overly engineered but there are some design features that contribute to reducing the mechanical forces on the foot and lower limb - therefore enhancing your running ability. The concept of bad pronation (the inward roll of the foot when walking or running) highlights how foot position can be a factor in the spectrum of mechanical forces that can eventually lead to lower limb symptoms. There is no question that in my clinical practice foot position is a component part of the runners injury risk factor.
If you feel like you might be in need of a little expert assistance finding your perfect trainers we recommend heading down to any Runners Need store to get your gait analysis read. This involves an in-depth assessment of how your feet respond when testing different shoes on the treadmill. They then take these results and recommend a shoe based not only the results of your gait analysis but also other factors such as injuries, running history and future running goals.
This feature was written in partnership with Clinique. #StartBetter.
Images from Instagram: Nike, AdidasWomen, BaseBodyBabes, CatMeffan