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Find the perfect Running Shoes for you.

One of the first things people ask when they start running is what running shoes do I need? There is such a huge choice, it is hard to know where to start. Many people will head to the local running shop where they will put you on a treadmill and check what your foot is doing when you run.

The running shoes you choose, however, will have a profound effect on how you run.

Which Running Shoes are correct?

Everybody is different, everyone’s feet are different and so there is no one shoe that will work for everyone. If you have low arches and over pronate a running shop may give you a shoe to support the arches, if you are new to running, you may be given a very cushioned pair of shoes. However, we generally find neither of these are great solutions, especially if you are just starting out.

Let’s start by looking at the shoes that have large amounts of cushioning at the heel.

Cushioned running shoes

Since the 1990’s running shoes have gone from fairly simple affairs, to a far more complex beast. In the 1990’s you would put on a pair of flat plimsoles and head out for a run with little thought. Then came along the perception that if you had a longer stride, you could cover more ground and would improve your running times.

However, if you increase your stride you will go into a heel strike and there are many issues with running on your heels for long periods of time. Your foot was not designed to dissipate the forces of running through your heel and so injuries started to emerge.

The solution to this was to create a lot of cushioning at the back of your running shoes to help dissipate the forces through the shoe rather than through the ankle. The added benefit of this was that the shoe would now have a greater drop angle from the heel to the toe, further encouraging the longer stride and heel strike.

Arch support running shoes

Pausing for a moment to look at shoes that help with over pronation or weak aches. When we run, we should dissipate the forces through our feet and one of the ways we do this is through the arch of the foot. If we land in a roughly mid foot position, so you land directly over the arch of the foot, this arch will flatten to dissipate the forces.

However, if we have weak feet with little arch, our foot will still pronate, or flatten to dissipate force. So if there is no arch it will over flatten and cause the ankle to roll inwards. This isn’t ideal as it causes lots of issues in the ankle and lower leg over time.

So shoe manufacturers created running shoes with an arch support to stop the arch from flattening so much. Thus stopping the pain and injury.

The problem with both the running shoes mentioned is that they fundamentally support the foot in an external way, when our foot, if functioning correctly, can do this itself. If we support any part of the body too much it has the effect of weakening it.

The downwards cycle

If we encourage a heel strike with a heavily supportive shoe, we won’t use the arch of the foot properly to dissipate forces, so this arch will weaken. If the arch weakens and you start to experience pain, you will head off for a shoe to give you more support in this area, possibly creating more weakness in the process. While the shoe is relatively new this will solve your issues, but as the shoe ages it will support you less and the issue will return.

What are the solutions?

Ideally we want to encourage the foot to land in a mid foot position, if you didn’t wear shoes at all! 😮 you would naturally land mid footed. So your heel and ball of the foot would land at approximately the same time, and the forces would be centred around your arch. Happily, there are now shoes that have low drop or zero drop levels which help to encourage a mid foot stride. The drop relates to the angle between the heel and toe on a running shoe, the lower it is, the flatter the shoe. Back to the plimsoles of old! If you are just starting out or trying to get yourself to a more mid foot stride these are a great starting place.

If you are new to running and have reasonable arches, you could start with a minimalistic shoe, there are plenty of these available now. These running shoes do nothing for your foot other than protect it from the rough floor. They rely on the strength of your foot to support you, so aren’t suitable if you have very flat feet. When you start to run, most people will start a walk/ run program and this is perfect for building up the strength in your feet and regaining those arches. If you fancy transitioning into these, or would like to run in these but know if your feet are weak, get in touch and we can take a look and sort you a strengthening program to get you safely running in these shoes.

What if I have no arches?

The arches of the foot are supported by the muscles of the foot. Muscles are trainable, so there is no reason arches can’t be regained 💪.

There are many exercises out there that will strengthen your feet, but it is essential these are done properly to ensure you get the results you want, so it is best to book in for us to check your feet and tailor your exercises.

However, if you are a runner, with weak arches, you would be better to start to slowly drop the angle of your shoes. This will move you slowly into a more mid foot position, forcing your arches to do some work to dissipate forces. Over time this will help to strengthen them. Each time your running shoes need replacing, buy one with a slightly lower drop, until you are down to no drop at all. If you are starting out, go straight for a simple pair of plimsoles, they are cheap and low drop so will start you running in the correct way and your feet will strengthen as you build up your running. They have cushioning, so aren’t completely relying on your foot, which helps if you know you are weak.

If you need help with your running and are struggling to know which running shoes are right for you, come in for our running analysis and we will take a look.