One of the most common obstacles novice runners come up against is the issue of the proper footwear or appropriate running shoes. If you pick up Runners Weekly, or any other fitness magazine of its ilk, you’ll be bombarded with a plethora of high-tech looking trainers that have very possibly been beamed from the near-future, or a least a distant planet where people are able to talk about their foot pronation with complete confidence. However, once you get to grips with the lingo, you’ll find that it’s actually quite easy to work out what kind of shoe will support your foot and get you dashing about like a whippet who fears neither the reaper nor shin splints.
Types of foot
There are three basic foot categories and in order to determine what type of running shoes to buy, it’s important that you identify what type of tread you have. If you have a specialist running shop nearby, it’s best to get yourself properly tested. Many sports stores have dedicated treadmills which can identify the type of trainer that you need. This is certainly the most accurate way of identifying your foot type. However, if you don’t have the facilties nearby or you’d prefer not to undergo the sportswear hard sell, then you can do an experiment in the comfort of your own home.
The footprint test
What you’ll need:
- A piece of paper, taped to the ground
- Some water
- Some food colouring
- Your foot
To discern what kind of foot you have, you can read your footprint. Simply add a few drops of food colouring to some water, dip your foot into it and then step once, quickly and naturally (that is to say not putting undue pressure on the foot, just walk as you would usually) onto the sheet of paper. The coloured footprint that you make should give you a fairly good idea of your shoe requirements.
The main thing to examine is the arch. This is the most narrow part of the footprint.
If your arch…
- Curves inward but not more than 3/4ths of an inch, this means you have a ‘NORMAL FOOT.’ This is probably the best news as it means that you have the greatest choice of running shoes as there is no need for a special pair to prevent injury.
LOOK FOR RUNNING SHOES THAT:
offer comfort, support and an inflated sense of self-esteem. Echo this in all your outdoor clothing.
If your arch…
Doesn’t seem to exist, in fact your footprint looks like a large, thick blob with little to no inward curve then you have FLAT ARCHES.
LOOK FOR SHOES THAT: are known for their stability and motion-control. You may also need to purchase in-soles, depending on the severity of your tread. To avoid injury, make sure you get proper advice the first time you purchase your trainers – this is one of the few instances the internet is not your friend.
If your arch…
Curves so inward that the middle of your footprint is extremely slender, you have HIGH ARCHES.
If you have high arches, it’s really important that you get the proper supportive footwear because the majority of people with high arches supinate or underpronate, which means you feet roll outward when you run. If you suffer a lot from sprained ankles, it could be because your high arches make you especially prone to experiencing this injury.
LOOK FOR SHOES THAT: tout their ability to absorb shock. You’re also going to need a large degree of flexibility, so shoes that bend easily are a must. In addition, make sure that as you progress in your running career, you periodically remeasure you feet as repeated exercise will cause your arches to fall a little, making your feet grow longer!
The gender issue
For the most part, the idea of ‘Men’s clothing’ and ‘Women’s clothing’ is just an exercise in marketing and sociological pressure. However, it’s worth knowing that there is a difference between men and womens’ running shoes that goes beyond the use – or not – of neon pink. A study on foot structure conducted by the Center for Locomotion Studies at Penn State University confirmed male/female differences in the arch, first toe, lateral side of the foot and the ball of the foot. Gender theory aside, this means, for the most part, it’s wise to bear the male/female categorisations in mind.
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