In January, we hear about all the planned fitness resolutions; to take up a new sport, focus on losing weight, getting fit, a healthier diet and these are all fabulous! But, while splashing out on a gym membership or fitness class bookings, can we also recommend that if there is one thing you are going to invest in this year, make it a good pair of trainers? This purchase will not only protect your feet but benefit your whole body.
Training shoes should be seen as a crucial piece of fitness equipment, not just a colour accessory match with your training gear! Specialist shoes will both reduce the risk of injury, but also aid performance. There’s a vast array of running and training shoes on the market and we recommend you visit a specialist store for advice and fitting – as the shoes should fit both you and your fitness requirements. Andy Curtis, Physiotherapy Director at The Medical, says, with anything from three to eight times a runner’s body weight acting as a force on the muscles in the leg with each stride, some critical features of a running shoe is comfort and shock absorption. Training shoes can also offer foot support, pronation correction, specific off-road or cross-training functionality, arch support and more.
Please don’t think that this is not relevant to you if you’re not a ‘runner’, the right trainers are important for all fitness activities. Nearly all types of fitness exercise involves some form of running or impact, with perhaps the exclusion of yoga/Pilates style exercise. By supporting your feet in the optimal position and absorbing some of the forces you drive up through the body, you will be supporting your joints, optimising performance and reducing the possibility of overuse or trauma injuries. On the flip side, poor fitting trainers can actually put you at a disadvantage and even cause an injury.
Andy is featured in the Metro, explaining why it’s so important to wear proper running trainers – particularly for women. See the full article, click here.
Podiatrist at The Medical, Lawrence Bevan, offers this advice on buying trainers:
Specialist: Firstly, we would recommend going to a specialist retailer, (such as Up and Running), because they will assess your requirements in detail, check the fit, as well as look at your running gait on a treadmill (to be sure you are optimally supported and if necessary, corrected by the shoe).
As an aside, if you are a runner and want to improve your performance – we offer specialised gait analysis – looking at your running technique and style, offering advice and exercises to improve your performance and streamline your running.
Comfort: This is paramount, feeling like they ‘fit’ is intangible but often the most important thing. This is most likely to be when the shoe is wide enough and there is enough toe room.
Size: The shoe should end about 10-12mm beyond the longest toe (usually the first or second toe), and remember, you’ll have one foot bigger than the other! We would usually recommend starting with one size up from your usual size (especially ladies whose regular shoes can come up smaller) to allow for the feet to expand/toes to spread during exercise.
Support: Often trainers are firmer on the inside, strategically under the inner heel and arch/instep area for support and pronation correction. This can be especially helpful if you tend to collapse slightly over the arch or have suffered a running related injury. Again, it is best to ask for advice at a specialist retailer, because there are varying degrees of support available and corrective footwear is a complicated topic on its own.
Brands: There are a vast array of brands available – some well-known, others you’ve never heard of. But please don’t be drawn in by this season’s offering and colour from the big brands, what matters here is comfort, so assess with your feet and not your eyes! Trainers can be expensive and especially the better brands, but once you know which shoe suits you, you can save money by going for last season’s colour.
And finally – once you’ve bought your trainers, it is advisable to ‘break them in’. Wear them around the house and then for some walks before you run. This softens up the materials and moulds them to your feet. After you’ve had them a month or so and you’re happy with them, it’s worth buying a second pair and rotating them.
If you feel you may need more support under your arches (you’ve noticed your roll in or have flat feet) or are suffering some discomfort in the legs/knees or hips, it is worth checking whether you need a more supportive insole in your shoes. Lawrence offers both personalisation of pre-moulded support insoles as well as fully bespoke orthotics.