Invest in Proper Running Shoes to Help Ensure Success, Prevent Injury
Hockey has expensive skates and bulky pads. Baseball requires a leather glove, a batting glove, and spikes. But runners have one piece of equipment—running shoes. Running shoes do a lot more than protect your feet as you pound on the miles. Sometimes they can make or break your dedication to the sport, said Sally Egan, a ThedaCare licensed athletic trainer and certified strength and conditioning specialist at Shawano Community High School. She is also a 20-year runner who runs the Leopolis Triathon and half marathon races every summer.
“If your running shoes don’t provide enough support or shock absorption, you will feel it in your muscles, tendons, knees, and hips. For people just starting out, that pain can turn into an injury or discourage them from continuing to run,” she said. “The best way to truly explore if running is right for you is to give yourself your best advantage. Invest in good quality running shoes from the very beginning.” She suggests:
- Go to a running shoe store that specializes in analyzing your running form to fit you with the best type of shoe for your body mechanics. “At running shoe stores, they’ll have you run in the store or on a treadmill and look for things like collapsed arches and how your feet move when you run,” said Egan. Plan to spend a half hour or more talking to a salesperson and trying on different shoes. It is a thoughtful process, not an impulse buy.
- Learn about the three kinds of running shoes: motion control, neutral cushion, and stability shoes.
Motion control shoes are designed to help runners compensate for collapsed arches (over-pronation or “flat feet”).
Neutral cushion shoes help address the opposite issue, which is underpronation, when the outside of your foot takes most of the shock. This is also the best choice for neutral runners.
Stability shoes are designed for runners who have a uniform neutral stride without significant over- or under-pronation issues.
- Make an investment in your success, and keep in mind this is really the only specialized equipment you need for your running sport. Plan to spend up to $120 on a good pair of running shoes. “Cheap running shoes are the opposite of a good investment,” Egan said. “You could end up hurting yourself and dampening your enthusiasm for exercise, which are both very counterproductive.”
- Don’t choose your running shoes to match your teammates’ or best friend’s choices. Every person’s running form and foot structure is different and needs to be addressed individually.
- Running shoes need to be replaced about every 300 miles. For school-aged athletes, this means a new pair for both fall cross-country and spring track seasons. “They may still look good on the outside, but the integrity of the supportive material that makes up the shoe is worn out by then,” Egan said.
- Why have running shoes become so specialized? After all, our grandparents didn’t require such special footwear. Simply put, we don’t run and walk enough in the U.S. anymore, said Egan. “People live very sedentary lives and we all use our muscles less and less. Higher injury rates amongst athletes have spurred a lot of research into the biomechanics of running. Shoe technology advances to address these problems, and each shoe brand is known for addressing certain issues,” she said. Egan has a favorite brand and model of shoe and buys the same pair over and over. “Once you find the one you like, you can stick with it.”
- After a proper fitting, a runner should not have to “break in” a pair of running shoes. If you experience pain or frequent blisters with a new pair of running shoes that were fitted at a running shoe store, return them to the store and get a new pair.
- Remember the right socks. (And the left ones, too!) The best running socks are made from synthetic materials such as polyester, acrylic, and other tech fabrics because they'll wick away moisture. Stay away from pure cotton socks because once cotton gets wet, it stays wet and can cause blisters. Find the right blend of fabric that works for you.
Those who train carefully avoid the setbacks of injury and discouragement. For runners, shoes are a vital part of the training equation. Don’t walk to the nearest running shoe store. Run!
For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 32 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service. For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.