Thinking outside the running shoe box (part 1)
All too often I see people looking to purchase a new pair of running shoes who have been suffering all sorts of injuries, some of them caused by over training or a traumatic incident, but often caused by either the wrong shoes or the way that they are used.
Education for these people is key, mostly the selection of their previous shoes will have been based on what a friend as said or at best a review in a running magazine, friends will tell you what works for them, and the magazine cannot see how you run so neither makes. So what education is needed... well the first thing to understand is that pretty much ALL the shoes on the wall are neutral!
That’s right even the so called stability and motion control shoes! Whilst these “stability” shoes have got more or denser materials on the medial side the only thing that these materials do is to stop the shoe from pronating... YES the shoe, your foot will carry on pronating inside the shoe until it hits something to stop it, runs out of flexibility or is off the ground again, so being as the inside of all these shoes is effectively flat. only when the foot hits that flat surface can the midsole material of the shoe start to work (stopping the shoe pronating)
By the time this has happened you are probably half way through your next stride, not even had the benefit and caused all sorts of harm to your joints . This is where shape becomes a very important part of the fit of the shoe.Shape... is one thing that most runners ignore, probably because the shoe salesperson tells them that “this shoe stops pronation”…. IT DOESN’T you heard it here first! Adding shape under the foot is what slows down pronation, it won’t stop it but equally we don’t want to stop it, pronation is natural it is your shock absorber and your way of adapting to the surface that you are moving over, the fact that mostly we move over hard flat terrain such as tarmac or concrete is what allows our feet to pronate to that surface, if we were to be barefoot on soft undulating terrain our feet would be much happier adapting to that. Adding shape under the foot in the form of a semi rigid sports insole helps to guide your foot into its best position but allows it to flex naturally during your running or walking gait, too rigid and we block natural movement, too soft and cushioned and we may as well try and run on the soft sand at the top of the beach...did you ever do that and notice how far you didn’t get??How you run... when walking a natural gait is from heel to toe, it is not quite the same for running, most runners (about 90% of them) do heel strike mostly because they have learnt to do this due to the large crash pad of foam put onto the bottom of most modern running shoes, as the leg swings forward this lump of foam gets in the way and before you know it you are heel striking and running with the brakes on! Thinking about how you run, shortening your stride, increasing your cadence and paying attention to body position can help to change the way you hit the ground and over a period of transition you can move to a more natural shoe such as the Newton Running products.... it is not for everyone and it most certainly needs to be done with a longer transition or adaption period, shoes which encourage a more natural running gait are not the same as barefoot shoes ... interestingly Newton Running are one of the few shoe manufacturers that recommend the use of your running orthotics if you use them, stating in the box that your shoes are not a replacement for your orthotics and that you should just slip them into your Newton shoes. One of the most important things about moving to a natural running shoe is flexibility; you need to work on core stability and flexibility if you do not want to make this change a painful one, daily drills to get your muscles to remember the new better position are suggested to maintain the better running form that you are creating.