Buying the right trainers for your feet

Many runners rely on the shoe shop to give them advice on shoes. Their training comes from the shoe companies who want to promote their footwear.

Treadmill analysis gives a two dimentional look at the gait, not the full picture behind what is going on, It looks at the end product of motion and assumes that correcting this with a shoe will solve the problem.

In addition, some shops take it upon themselves to add insoles as well. Is this going too far? Are they trying to be all things to all people without the professional advice of an experienced podiatric biomechanist?

Podiatrists don’t cut out the shoe shop, but it looks like they cut us out. It makes more sense to have your feet checked and analysed by a podiatrist before choosing the shoe. Getting the shoe that’s right for your gait could help you to avoid injury later.

Shoes, after all, are not as great a correction as they claim to be. The way the foot moves on the shoe and the forces involved can be very powerful and over-ride the effect the shoe has.

Some notes about how trainers interact with your feet

Your feet take 3 – 4 times your body weight during the action of running. The forces increase through the feet the faster you run. Structural mal-alignment in feet and legs, which most of us have to some degree, will be accentuated by these forces. Injuries are more likely to occur unless these forces are balanced correctly.

These forces, combined with your individual mechanics, should there be a fault can lead to aches and pains and over-use injury. Wearing the wrong trainers may contribute to this. So choosing the right shoe becomes more important. Tying this in with your own mechanics is what a podiatrist can do. The treadmill analysis may not give the full picture of what is going on with the function of the foot. For example. Tight calves may lead to more pronation. Resisting this pronation with a motion control shoe may then lead to compensation at another part of the body like the knee and back.

Trainers are designed to absorb some of the shock described above – to lessen the impact on your body with each step. This reduces the risk of injury to joints such as the knees, hips and back.

Some of the newer trends like barefoot running shoes may not do this job quite as well, in addition to changing running styles. Not all of us can handle the change in style as it creates forces that the feet and legs cannot handle.

The Podiatrist can ascertain what sort of shoe you require and combined with the relevant exercises, and possible orthotics, disperse the forces that cause problems.

How not to buy trainers

  • Look for trainers with a firm sole in the middle but some good flexibility in the toe. The shoe should be firm enough to shield the foot but soft enough to cushion impact and provide comfort. You don’t want  shoes that are too flexible, because they do not last that long and  could cause instability.
  • Be careful of  relying  on the advice of the staff in the shop. Their knowledge of biomechanics is certainly better than yours, but still falls short of full understanding.
  • I you are unsure about your feet, talk to a Podiatrist before you invest in running trainers, so you can understand what features you should be looking for.

So, if you’re a new runner, then certainly do it right the 1st time, and enjoy the sport. Get the right advice.

If you are a seasoned runner and you have developed issues, do the same thing, you may be surprised to find simple things  make all the difference.


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