Many of us start our fitness journey by running and for many, fitness is limited to running itself. But for running, you need shoes. As for most first time runners, shoes are generally shopped on the basis of looks and popularity of brands. For those who are seasoned runners geek out over features like whether the shoe is for overpronators or underpronators, arch support/motion control features, breathability and sole flexibility. We even get clients who point expensive shoes as one of the top reasons for them not getting into running and other fitness activities. Excuses aside, today we tell you which is the best shoe for running that’ll keep you injury free and help you become as fast as Usain Bolt (not really).
And the answer is: In a nutshell, it doesn’t matter what you wear.
What Matters Then?
It shouldn’t matter what you wear if you run correctly. What really matters is the running technique you use. No shoe can save you from knee/ankle/hip pain if you’re running incorrectly. Shoes may delay it or they may propagate the impact to some other joint but do it for enough time and an injury is bound to happen. Running with bad technique is like deadlifting with a round back. The fact that it doesn’t hurt now should not mean you continue doing it. And no sports gear, however expensive that may be can compensate for your faulty biomechanical patterns. So, let’s talk about some common technique errors that people make and how to fix them:
A good starting point to understand how our feet take our body’s weight is written in this article. To build upon it, your feet’s arches act like a spring which mitigates the ground force impact. So the first and most important thing to notice is if you have an active arch or not while running. It’s hard to judge that in heavily foamed shoes. Many of you may have to rely on how you feel if your arch is collapsing or not. Take your time to assess yourself. For those medical geeks out there, we are limiting this discussion to longitudinal arches only.
Caveat: Some of us develop flat feet over time as a result of wearing supported shoes for years or in early childhood. If you have such a problem, get yourself assessed by a physiotherapist. For you, shoes do matter, at least for now. Get yourself fixed over time and you may be able to get rid of your dependency on supported soles depending upon the severity of your condition.
Heel Striking & Feet Reaching Out Ahead
Some people hit their midfoot/forefoot first while others hit their heel first into the ground. For those who are heel striking, they often land their feet far ahead of them instead of keeping it below their center of gravity. We’ll do a separate article on heel running vs non heel striking (forefoot/midfoot running) as this is a widely debated research topic but for now all you need to know is wearing those foamed sports shoes promote heel running.
On the other hand, have you ever seen a baby run? Or how sprinters run in Olympics? Let’s do an experiment if you’re already a runner.
Find a park where you can take off your expensive shoes and run barefoot. Did you notice a difference? You simply can’t run striking your heel first for long because the biomechanics of human body doesn’t allow it. Sprinting also has such corrective effects on running patterns.
Knees Caving in & Feet Turned out
Both of them are self explanatory and often times coupled with each other. Also, if your feet are not landing straight, that again promotes arch collapses. This is the classic duck feet condition and results in a lot of knee injuries.This may even be happening if you’re running barefoot or in minimalist shoes. If you’re trying to keep everything straight and tight and your knees are still caving in, you may have some tightness or hyperactive/underactive lower body musculature that needs to be corrected.
The Best Alternative
If you’re a beginner, start running in simple PT shoes. We have so many stories of clients running (even half marathons) injury free in those. PT shoes are cheap, lightweight and provides the basic cushioning required for running on the road against pebbles etc to protect your skin. If you’ve been running for a while, we recommend a slow transition from your current shoes to PT shoes to avoid acute ankle injuries.
To conclude, buying the latest advanced running shoe is unnecessary but if you really wish to run pain free for the rest of your life, we recommend rather investing time and money in learning better technique.
In Lucem Scientiam