4 Simple Rules When Choosing RunnersMay 25, 2021
If you go into most sports shops nowadays they will tell you that you need a certain type of runner depending on your foot type or even worse your arch height or shape.
The truth is this type of advice is at best for the birds. Research has shown that picking your runner to prevent getting injured based on these outdated methods is not correct.
With that in mind I wanted to share with you the simple rules you should be looking for when choosing runners that reduce the chance of injury.
The first most important piece of advice when choosing a runner is making sure you aim for comfort in your runners over fashion/brand type.
Many people are fixated on a certain brand of footwear before they enter their local shop. However many brands vary in width/depth accomodation for your foot type so it is important to do some research into what type of runner meets these requirements.
Asics are a basic example of a more narrow fit which many runners enjoy, while brooks/new balance are examples of wider fits for people with broad feet.
As some of you out there may have orthotics, it is important to take this into consideration when choosing the runner in terms of width/depth accommodation.
Runner Type over Hype
There have been many athletic footwear fads over the past number of years which will continue to be a subject of debate amongst avid runners.
From personal experience of following various footwear fads and the continual line of clients that come in with footwear related injuries, my best advice is choose wisely what type of model suits your foot best rather than what is currently the most profitable runner in stock!
A prime example is the minimalistic runner that became a fad (again!) in recent years. Minimal running shoes have a low heel height and flatter sole which have been a most likely contributor to injuries in our clinic (mainly from inexperienced runners wearing them).
However it is not the shoe to fault, rather the wearer!
When you start your couch to 5k plan it is safer to go for a heel height of over 10mm (compared to forefoot height) to begin with to avoid overloading areas such as your calf/achilles/ball of foot.
A good shoe should always follow the 2:1 rule whereby the heel height should be roughly double the forefoot sole height.
Minimal shoes are completely safe to run in but only for runners that have experience with this type and have the appropriate running technique to match.
Maximal shoes (heavily cushioned) can still lead to injury with risks may possibly even being higher but more research is needed in this area.
Long gone are the days you can walk in and buy the runner straight off the shelf without taking a second to think about it.
The staff in many sports shops are now trained in giving information on what structure a runner provides based on your foot (which sometimes makes it more difficult to decide!).
If you are starting out running most beginners will be fine in a stability runner. This runner provides extra support around your heel/ankle and aims to keep your foot and ankle in a vertical position on striking the ground.
Other models are motion control and cushioned. Motion control as the name suggests aims to limit pronation (people with flat feet/feet falling inwards).
This type is naturally more of a heavier shoe due to added midfoot support so only choose this if it feels comfortable to wear when in shop.
Cushioned runners gives more of a foam base with increased sole thickening.
However as discussed above, many of the promises made by certain footwear companies regarding the structure of runners may not be valid based on increasing research findings in these areas.
Form before Footwear
Form meaning your overall strength and conditioning when starting running is most important to know before choosing your new runners.
If you are a little out of shape like most of us when starting running for the first time, then invest your time (and money) in a fitness class such as pilates or a gym membership to increase your form.
Otherwise just follow a basic bodyweight exercise regime at home that involves squats/lunges/planks etc. Footwear is important, but knowing where your weaknesses lie and how to improve strength in these areas will lower your overall running injury risk.
Recent research into this area found runners that include a strength and conditioning plan into their week reduce the likelihood of injury by over 50%...food for thought!
If you are unsure what runners are right for you why not contact South Dublin Podiatry Clinic and get a Gait Assessment with one of our Podiatry Team.