Perth Runners! Answer these questions BEFORE your next shoe purchase.
Every time a runner comes through the clinic the subject inevitably shifts to running shoes. “Are these ones ok?” “My friend recommended X brand/model, they worked really well for them” or the hilarious but brutally honest “I only buy pink ones…”
Over my morning coffee earlier this week, I came across this article on ABC News, claiming that the latest research suggests that the key factor in determining which shoe to use is bodyweight.
“I don’t weight much, does that mean I can wear whatever I want??”
Put simply…. No.
Can changing shoes actually make a difference?
When a runner or athlete comes to see me for advice about running, part of my assessment and advice involves looking at which shoes they are currently using, and whether changing will make a difference to the injury or issue I am helping them manage.
Sometimes a simple tweak to your current shoe can make a huge difference to your Pain and Performance, this can save you big on spending your hard earned cash on a different pair of shoes.
Other times a completely different shoe is more appropriate… but which one, now that is the million dollar question that we will start to unravel below.
Keep it simple
I’ll start by keeping it really simple – running shoes are a SMALL part of the picture. You can’t cushion or motion control a bad training plan.
Runners in the 1950s ran 100 miles a week in plimsolls (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plimsoll_shoe) and managed just fine by being smart with their approach to training and recovery.
Before You Buy... You Must Ask Yourself...
From the angle of a Physio and Running coach, here are the factors that influence which shoes we recommend to our clients:
1. How many free pairs do you get per year? (just kidding, I threw this in to check you were paying attention….)
2. What shoes are you currently using?
3. The athlete’s training age (years of running, mileage per week/month/year)
4. What distance/race are you training for? What will your next 3-6 months of running look like?
5. How much do you weigh? (heavier athletes will usually need more cushioning)
6. What surface(s) do you predominantly train on?
7. How many days per week do you run? (More than four will benefit from using two pairs of shoes interchangeably)
8. Do you need a different shoe for specific sessions eg track/speedwork or trail?
9. Will you be using the shoes for anything other than running eg walking or other sports?
10. Do you require support for a particular part of the running cycle? (eg. Do you collapse on initial contact with the ground, or need support through toe off?)
11. Does the shoe need to accommodate an orthotic?
12. What shape of foot do you have? Wide/narrow? (this will influence the brand of shoes they will prefer)
As you can see, there are a lot of questions to answer to determine which shoes will work the best for you!
And despite doing our very best, Physios, Coaches and Shoe-Fitters don’t always make the right choice.
Not Making The Wrong Choice...
Often the key issues I see with wrong shoe choice relate to fitting (wrong size or shape, or too wide/narrow somewhere in the foot), or instability (basically a shoe that may be very soft/cushioned, but as a result “wobbles” underfoot).
Don’t get suckered into Shoe Marketing Hype, shoe companies spend millions to get their shoes on your feet. Remember that your foot and running style is unique, overpriced and over-marketed shoes are sometimes not the answer.
What about Niche Shoes?
“What about Hokas?” I hear you ask?? I won’t go into detail in this post on “niche” shoes (eg barefoot shoes, trail shoes etc) as they probably deserve separate blog posts each.
My Recommendations... In A Nutshell
Often what I will do is give the athlete a general recommendation, consisting of:
Type of shoe (mileage trainer/lightweight trainer/speed shoe/track shoe)
Neutral or Motion Control
Type of support/motion control (rearfoot/midfoot/forefoot)
Last shape (is the shoe curved or does it run straight)
Brand (based on fit shape – narrow/wide)
Colour (we all know RED GOES FASTER!)
Get To Know Your Local Shoe Fitter
I then leave it up to the shoe fitter (who ideally knows both running and shoes really well) to decide on the actual shoe, working within the parameters we have stipulated.
There are plenty of shoe fitters located in Perth and all have different systems and ways of fitting your shoe.
I really encourage you to answer the questions above you so you can have a better idea of the characteristics that your perfect running shoe must have.
It will not only save you time by reducing the trial and error but it will save your back pocket on making the wrong purchase.
What is your current favourite running shoe??