Finding proper running shoes

Many of you are training for the
Cayman marathon, half marathon or the marathon relay.

Maybe you feel like your shoes are
losing their comfort, their spring or their support and it’s time to buy a new
pair. Maybe you are starting to feel an ache or tightness. You may be
questioning yourself, “Are my two-year-old shoes giving me what I need?”

But which pair should you buy?
Maybe in the past, you have chosen shoes because you like the colour, because
your friend said they are good, because you read the brand was good or because
you think the brand is cool.

There is a better way to choose a
pair of running shoes.

If you are on a running training
programme and are having any foot, knee or hip pain, you may want to ensure you
are in the right type of running shoes for your foot type and level of

Most resources categorise feet into
three different types: high arch, normal arch and flat foot. 

When evaluating foot type, it is
important to do so while weight bearing (standing) or walking. A foot that
appears to have a normal arch may flatten when an individual stands, or a foot
that appears to be quite high in the arch may flatten to normal when an
individual walks or runs.

Pronation of the foot refers to the
foot absorbing the shock of each step by flexing and rolling. The foot rolls a
bit inward with each step, and with the correct gait should begin to roll
outward with the toe-off, but for some people the ankle rolls too far downward
and inward with each step (over-pronation). This can lead to injury but can be
corrected with the right shoes, insoles, or orthotics. 

Conversely, the term supination is
used for individuals who tend to run on the outsides of their feet (typically
with high arches).

One way of evaluating your degree
of pronation or supination is to take an old pair of running shoes or flat work
shoes. Turn them over and have a look at the sole. Check out the wear pattern –
are the soles worn on the inside or the outside or mostly in the middle? If the
wear is on the inside, chances are you are an over-pronator. If the wear is in
the middle, you probably have a normal arch (mild pronator). If the wear is on
the outside, you’re a supinator.

One good way of evaluating level of
pronation is the ‘paper bag test’. This basic test will provide you with a look
at your foot imprint. With a wet foot, take a step onto a flattened paper bag.
Try to walk normally, continue to step forward with your other foot as if you
are walking away from the bag (producing a normal stride).

If you need more information on
what shoes fall into each category (cushioning, stability or motion control),
major shoe manufacturers often have this information on their websites. If you
have a brand that you like or that has worked well for you in the past, check
out the correct type of shoe and select from their website.

If any of this is confusing or if
you are not sure which type of foot you have, a consultation with a rehabilitation
professional (physiotherapist, chiropractor, sports medicine doctor, etc.) may
be a good an option.  Prevent injuries
and get to the finish line happy and comfortable.


Krissy Dooling has a master’s degree in physical therapy and is
practising in George Town.

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