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Choosing the right running shoe

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Choosing the right running shoe

Running has become an increasingly popular form of exercise, seeing a dramatic surge in the number of participants who choose it as a means to better health. Unfortunately, more runners also equates to more running related injuries. Since the only equipment used in running is a good pair of shoes, it is crucial to choose the correct footwear for both your running bio-mechanics and your body type. Finding the best-fitting shoe among so many options can be a daunting task. To help ensure an enjoyable running experience, you need to make certain the shoe fits properly from heel to toe. Knowing what to look for will give you a better idea as to how your next pair should feel—and fit.

Here are a few simple tips to consider when trying on running shoes:​

• Your heel should fit snugly, but not too tightly. While the shoes are laced up (but not yet tied), you should be able to slide your foot out. When laced up, there will be some heel movement, but it shouldn’t be uncomfortable.
• Your foot should be able to move side to side in the shoe’s forefoot without crossing over the edge of the insole.
• Feet swell and lengthen over a run, so make sure there’s a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.
“Wiggle” room protects against front-of-the-foot issues.
• Knowing your arch type isn’t the whole story. You can’t get a good feel simply by standing in the shoe. Take the shoe for a short “test jog” around the store or outside.

Shoe Types

There are three main types of traditional running shoes: neutral cushioned, stability, and motion control. A neutral-cushioned shoe has no dual-density midsole. It is lightweight and is made up of shock-absorbing materials with minimal supportive elements. A stability shoe has a dualdensity midsole, providing medial support and a plastic anti-pronation foot bridge present. A motion control shoe has a dual-density midsole extended to the rear foot that is thicker and denser than a stability midsole.

Which is better: Hard or Soft midsole?

A recent study measured ground reaction forces and loading rate when comparing a hard midsole to a soft midsole. Vertical ground reaction force represents the effect of the ground hitting the body. Vertical loading rate is the rate of change of the initial ground reaction force. When looking at these two variables, a hard-soled shoe is better at reducing the maximal vertical ground reaction force but increases the maximal initial loading rate. Soft-soled shoes are better at reducing the initial maximal loading rate; however, they increase the total ground reaction force. The solution appears to be in opting for a combination of both soft and hard midsole materials. A soft material is used at the “impact zone” to reduce the initial loading rate and a firm material in the midsole to reduce amplitude of the ground reaction force.

How physical therapy can help...

A physical therapist can help by providing a thorough exam to understand your personal history, running mechanics and running habits. They will also assess your foot alignment, ankle range of motion and strength deficits. A physical therapist can also provide a gait assessment to help you properly choose the correct shoe for your running experience. Contact your local physical therapist today to discover more ways that they can help to improve your quality of life!

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