What’s the point of getting one of those $180 running shoes if your sneakers work just fine, you might ask? Run long enough in a pair of worn-out pads and you’ll feel the hurt – especially since because worn out sneakers aren’t meant for running.
Know Your Foot Type
If you haven’t noticed, the feet and ankles of runners turn slightly inward with each footstrike. This movement known as pronation, is theorised to act as a shock-absorber of the body, according to the journal of Physical Therapy in Sport. Generally, our feet can be separated into the following three categories, though different degrees of these abnormalities can exist (a flat-footer can wear a shoe meant for a neutral-footed runner and be totally fine, for instance).
Wet your foot and stand normally on a patch of dry, flat ground, or use a piece of cardboard, and watch for the following characteristics:
If you can see your entire footprint, you’re a flat footer.
If you can see only your heel, the ball of your foot and a thin arch on the outside of your foot, you’re high arched.
If you can see about half your arch (your foot profile looks curved), you’re neutral footed.
- Flat Footer
Most individuals who posses foot abnormalities fall into this category, where the foot rotates too far inwards – this means shock can’t be properly absorbed by your legs, like that of a worn out car’s suspension. As a result, you’ll be more prone to injuries such as shin splints and Runner’s Knee, says Dr Kelvin Chew, a consultant sports physician from the Changi Sports Medicine Centre.
You Need: Motion control shoes, if you’re a severe overpronator. These shoes have extra support systems that make them more rigid, limiting foot rotation. If you’re mild, stability shoes can be an option.
- High Arched
In this case, your foot rotates too little inward, meaning also the impact of each footstrike travels directly up your legs. As such, the shock absorption system of high arched runners is too stiff, meaning they require the softest footwear available.
You Need: Cushioned shoes to absorb the impact, since your feet are too stiff to pronate. Stay away from stability shoes though, as they limit pronation.
- Neutral Footed
You’ll be able to wear any type of shoe, but take note of your size and bodyweight and adjust your options accordingly.
You Need: If you’re a heavier runner, a stability shoe can provide more support than a cushioned shoe that can come in handy once you start to fatigue in a long race, says Sam Ng, a personal trainer. Or amp things up by going for a racer shoe, that has limited levels of support but is exceedingly lightweight.
Running Shoes Are Meant For Running
Don’t use running shoes for anything else other than running, as they’re made to absorb shock and provide support in a linear manner, not for sideways motions. As a rule of thumb, don’t use them for activities like tennis or street soccer – or risk wearing them out faster and rolling your ankles. You’ve been warned.