Running shoes are the most important piece of equipment that a runner has. They help prevent injury and they may help the running gait be more efficient. The running shoe market is huge and most of the running shoe companies and podiatrists make significant investment into the technology and science of running shoes.
If you require advice on any of these topics or a pair of custom made insoles or orthotics for a painful flatfoot or high arched foot, click (more information).
The Heel Counter
A rigid heel counter is crucial (the part of the shoe just above the softer heel foundation) because it’s vital in upholding the foot’s position inside the shoe. This is particularly important If you experience foot, ankle or knee pain. Avoid trainers that feel nice with a soft heel counter. The heel counter supports and reduces impact on joints when your foot strikes the ground, and if it is too soft, it can overstretch your calf muscles and strain your Achilles tendon.
TIP: Some evidence suggests that undoing your laces before putting your foot into the trainer (and then redoing them) helps to preserve the life of your heel counter.
Cushioning densities differ with the type of running shoe. Cushioned trainers designed for under-pronators to neutral-arched runners characteristically have a uniform midsole cushioning density, while motion control shoes meant for over-pronators (flat-footed people) usually have two midsole density combinations for added support.
TIP: Hold a potential purchase up lengthwise, with your left palm on the toe box and your right hand grasping the heel. Squeeze your hands together and note where the shoe bends. Trainers bending at the arch cannot keep your foot stable during running and might stress your plantar fascia as well as other key structures.
If you’re a dedicated athlete who won’t skip running, even in the rain, trainers with waterproof quarter panels or wing units can help prevent you from getting soaked. We advise to purchase shoes that additionally offer drainage as well, as water usually penetrates your ruuning trainers via the shoe rim (below your ankle).
A good pair of running trainers flex where the ball of your foot sits. If the ball of your foot rests behind this point, your arch will bend instead. This is unadvisable as it may cause larger amounts of strain on your foot. However, most good running shoes these days come with multiple flex points in the forefoot that provide a greater range of motion and comfort, it is vital you get the correct size to prevent this from occurring. Your podiatrist at OsteoGait Podiatry can advise you if you are unsure (more information).
The Toe Box
Feet can expand up to half a size whilst running as the soles are often the warmest part of our bodies during running as we try to give off heat. Allow for around 5mm-10mm of room from the apex of the longest toe to the tip of the shoe when choosing the correct size. This should be done whilst standing up as your feet are at their maximum length only when they bear the full mass of your body.
TIP: An excessively wide fitting trainer or large shoe can cause unwarranted movement inside the shoe which may lead to blisters. An excessively narrow fit may increase friction and shear as it rests against the skin and causes painful corns or blistering, it may even temporarily restrict blood flow which can be painful. You are looking for a snug fit with enough width and depth in the toe box.
Insoles & Orthotics (Orthoses)
Running insoles, also known as orthotics or orthoses, can be very effective at improving your foot alignment within your chosen shoes. This then adjusts the leg position and can help reduce the chance of injury when running by redistributing stress on affected structures and improving the efficacy of your walking or running pattern. At OsteoGait Podiatry we provide fully customised specialist orthotics for the average runner to elite Premier League footballers (more information).