How To Choose Your Running Shoes

Did you ever need a check list whenever you bought your running shoes? Well this is it: your checklist for choosing your running shoes.

 

1. Buy your shoes at the end of the day

According to Jorgen Welsink from Marathon Lifestyle Now whom we’ve had the pleasure to interview advises we choose our running shoes at the end of the day. The reason for that is because at the end of the day your feet are slightly swollen, as they are after a while of running.

 

2. Shoe flexibility

When you walk barefoot your foot bends under the toes, at the ball of the foot. Your shoe must allow for that natural movement of the foot otherwise your muscles, tendons, ligaments (including those of the toes) will work extra hard, too hard.

To test this bend the shoe with your hands, if they bend easily they’re flexible, if you put some effort into it then they’re not very flexible enough. Take a few of the shelf and feel the difference.

 

3. Toe room

Ensure you have the space about the thickness of your thumb between your longest toe and the front of the shoe. You also want to make sure your toes and feet can spread do the side as they would if you were barefoot. Make sure your little toe is happy as well.

 

4. Heel to toe drop

Heel to toe drop or heel drop is essentially the thickness measurement in mm from the heel to the toe or how fat the heel is. The heel drop can go as high as 12mm and as low as zero – which is as close as you can get to barefoot with a shoe on.

 

5. Terrain and shoe sole

Depending on the type of terrain you run on you have different types of soles. For example Inov8 have a great range of off-road shoes. This is the brand I use for winter training and Obstacle Course Racing. I use VivoBarefoot for any other type of terrain and the other seasons.

On our Amazon store you can find a range of running shoes.

 

6. Minimalist or not?

The closer you are to the ground – the closer you are to a zero mm drop – the less supported your feet are, the more impact you will feel and, as a results of feeling the impact, the more likely you are to reducing it.

The closer you are to the ground the more your muscles work (in your feet, ankles, knees, glutes etc). Minimalist walking or running also reduces your stride length, over striding being one of the main reasons of running injuries.

Being close to the ground also enhances the connectivity or communication between the soles of the feet, which have about 200 000 nerve endings, and the brain. As a result the brain knows how to position your body in the most efficient way to reduce the risk of injury. If the communication is restricted then the brain cannot properly respond to the terrain changes under your feet.

This is well documented  and probably the best book to get this information from is Natural Running Technique by Danny Abshire. You can find this book and others here.

I am an supporter of barefoot, however I do have a word of caution for you, our feet are not adapted to this lifestyle, our muscles, tendons, ligaments and skeletal system have not developed for a barefoot lifestyle unless you spend your childhood and adulthood barefoot most of the time. You can transition with care and discipline if you wish. The book mentioned above can help with that as well. Ignore the transition phase and you are on your way to potential injury.

 

I think I touched on the most important aspects of how to choose your running shoes. If I remember something else or if anyone has any questions or suggestions leave a comment below and I will update the article.

Check out our running shoes selection from Amazon to get an idea.

Ask any questions below.

Something’s Wrong With Your Shoes

I keep picking on running shoes, and, when possible, my clients and I walk and train barefoot. We take off our running shoes and go barefoot for some really good reasons. These are just a few of them:

 

Sensory Perception

There is a network of nerves on the bottom of your feet which sent information to the brain about the ground underneath your feet: . This triggers reflexes that help you avoid injuries when you sense something sharp or uneven. The thick soles of your running shoes limit sensory perception, and limit the key reflexes your body is intelligently equipped with to avoid injury, whether skeletal or muscular.

 

Flat Foot

Flat foot essentially means the arch of the foot doesn’t develop properly or it collapses. This can lead to other injuries.

There are people who are genetically predisposed to getting flat feet, but in many, many cases the problem is caused my weak foot muscles. These muscles help create and maintain the shape of the arch. Like any other arch you see in construction, they support your weight as it bounces up and down.

Your running shoes have arch support and cushioning so your muscles work less. Like any other muscles, if the muscles in the arch of your foot are not trained they weaken.

So I ask you this: if weak muscles in the arch leads to flat feet, are shoes that make those muscles work less the best choice?

Stiff soles are there to make the foot muscles work less as well. The less the muscles work, the weaker they become.

 

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is that sharp pain you may have felt in the sole of your feet after a run or when you wake up in the morning.

The plantar fascia is a tendonlike sheet of tissue at the base of your foot. It works with he muscles in your arch. That sharp pain comes from inflammation of the plantar fascia.

If the arch muscles are weak then the plantar fascia has to work more, to compensate for those weak muscles. More stress on the plantar fascia eventually leads to inflammation.

Thus weak foot muscles contribute to plantar fasciitis as well. Padded shoes, created to help the foot work less, contribute to weak foot muscles. Weak foot muscles then need support, we give them support, they stay weak or get worse, and on, and on we go. A vicious circle.

One way I alleviate plantar fasciitis pain is by using a golf ball. Walking can also help the recovery process.

 

Uneven terrain

Among the things I love most in the outdoors is the uneven terrain. The flat, shiny gym or home floor does little to develop foot muscles. It does help but not as much as when you walk, run , crawl and balance on uneven terrain.

Uneven doesn’t mean holes in the ground. Your foot muscles will react to the slightest drop, even if it’s 1mm.

That is one of the many reasons why I choose the outdoors for myself and also for my clients.

 

Should you throw away your shoes?

There is no doubt that shoes protect us in many situations, such as when we step on a sharp object. They also protect us during the winter. There is nothing wrong in wearing shoes.

However, there is the downside of wearing shoes which has been the topic of this article. Thus, the solution is to balance it out. Wear shoes, wear minimalist shoes and go barefoot as well, indoors but more importantly outdoors where you have uneven terrain.

 

Now, I am not a podiatrist, but I do know this: strong and flexible feet are healthy feet. Strong, flexible and healthy fit make good foundations for a strong, flexible and healthy body. 

A great book to read is The Story Of The Human Body by Daniel Lieberman.

 

If you do need advice, or maybe have questions about minimalist shoes contact me.