Think summer, think outdoors. This time of year welcomes runners of all ages back to the pavement. Whether you jog for leisure or are training for your next PR, the right shoes make all the difference in preventing injuries and keeping your stride smooth.
Shoe features like arch support, insole cushioning, and outsole traction improve upon the mechanisms of running, but not all feet are designed the same. Dr. Jason Bruse, podiatrist at Ogden Clinic, shares some guidance about choosing a perfect pair based on the biomechanics of your feet.
Some running shoes provide minimal support, others have a lot of it. How much support do I need?
“Support” refers to the amount of height added to the arch of the shoe. The answer to this question depends on how strong your arch is.
People with high-arched feet don’t need much support, but people with flat feet do. If you give a high-arched runner extra arch support, their foot will tilt too far outward and injuries can occur. On the other hand, people with flat feet benefit from arch support because it helps them strike the ground most efficiently.
What types of injuries do you see most often?
Arch type is frequently linked to the injuries I see:
People with high arches tend to get stress fractures because they strike the ground pretty hard. Their stiff feet do not have much give to them, resulting in impact injuries like plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendon issues, and other stress fractures.
People with flat feet have more muscle and tendon injuries. Their arches collapse downward and that’s not an efficient way to run. To compensate, the surrounding muscles consistently work to lift the arch back up resulting in tendonitis, shin splints, and other muscle injuries.
Regardless of your foot type, my biggest caution for runners is not over-train. Almost all of the running injuries I see stem from what I call the “Rule of Toos”: Running too often, too fast, or too long. Overtraining is almost always the problem—especially right before marathon season.
Can a podiatrist evaluate my foot type and running patterns?
Yes, a podiatrist can equip you with the knowledge of your arch type, strike type, and other factors that’ll help you choose a great pair of running shoes. They will also take into account your previous injuries and make recommendations that can minimize future problems.
Where should I buy new running shoes?
Head to a specialty store if you don’t have a make/model that works for you yet. I advise this because you can test different pairs out on a treadmill. Specialty stores also have staff members who perform one-on-one fittings to help you reach a choice you feel good about.
When you find a pair you love, jot down the brand and model then stick to it! When it’s time for a new pair, check online—sometimes you can find your pair at a discounted price since new models continually push out old inventory.
When is it time for a new pair?
Pay attention to your midsoles. A midsole is a layer of material or cushioning between the outsole and the insole of a shoe. Midsoles usually break down after 6 to 8 months or ~300 miles although some people avoid injuries running on shoes they’ve had a year or more. People with high arches tend to experience the most issues running on worn shoes.
Dr. Bruse performs running evaluations and addresses every type of foot injury. He practices at two Ogden Clinic locations, in Bountiful and Farmington. To learn more or schedule an appointment with Dr. Bruse, call (801) 397-6080.