Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow supposedly meaning that there will not be 6 more weeks of winter! So with that prediction and wishful thinking, hopefully we can actually enjoy running outside in nice weather! Now is the time to start thinking about what you need, and the first thing that should come to mind is a good pair of running shoes. These days, there are so many different types of running shoes that this process can be very confusing.
Let's break down some of the different types of shoes out there:
1. Minimalist shoes: There is a wide range of types of these shoes. The most striking and recognizable is the Vibram Five Fingers shoes. They are basically just material protecting your feet from the ground. They are considered a 'zero-drop' shoe. In other words, there is no 'drop' from heel to toe- they are flat. Other minimalist shoes have some drop- could be 4mm, could be more or less. One purpose of a minimalist shoe is to give your achilles an advantage- put the tendon on a bit of stretch which leads to more power when you push off. This shoe type is lightweight as well.
2. Customary shoes: The ones you have seen for decades. There are generally three categories:
Cushioned: Usually for someone who doesn't have any problems with their feet, or someone who needs a bit more shock-absorption such as someone with a high-arched foot.
Stability: Provides a combination of cushioning and stability- typically for someone who may 'overpronate' slightly when they run (arches fall inwards).
Motion Control: Not much cushion but a lot of stability. A heavier shoe. Typically for someone with very flat feet and severe overpronation.
3. Newtons: We put this shoe in its own category. This shoe has more of a buildup of material under the ball of your foot to try to change the way your foot would normally hit the ground, which the company claims will reduce impact and propel you forward so you can run faster. It certainly can change your normal stride to something different, for better or for worse.
4. Hokas: This is a newer shoe on the market, usually worn by ultramarathoners. Has a very thick, cushioned midsole. You also stand higher up from the ground. With all that cushioning and height, you must be careful on uneven surfaces like trails, as your ability for your foot to actually feel the ground is altered.
What shoe is best for you?
That is up to YOU! Try on different brands to see what you like. Even different types of shoes. Maybe you have flat feet but a cushioned shoe feels best. What is often frustrating is you may have been wearing one brand and type of shoe, but after a few months or years they change the style of the model you like, and then you don't like it anymore! Open your mind to other brands when the shoe you typically wear just doesn't feel right anymore.
1. Visit a shoe store that specializes in running shoes. Try on different types, different brands.
2. Change your running shoes every 300 miles, or every 6-8 months, whichever comes first. Writing the date of purchase somewhere on your shoes is helpful.
3. Shoe material degrades over time. A pair of shoes sitting in your closet unused for a year has less shock absorption than a new pair.
4. Shoes are not cheap- you will save a lot more money investing in a good pair of running shoes versus paying medical bills because you are injured!
5. If you start to have pain, address the pain with altering your training schedule, taking rest days, cross training, icing. If after 5-7 days pain is not improving, OR pain worsens over time, SEEK OUT MEDICAL ADVICE! A pain that you think may be a mild strain may turn out to be something much worse, such as a stress fracture. Be careful about self-diagnosing.
Maryland is a direct access state- meaning that you can go directly to a physical therapist without a physician's prescription, unless your insurance carrier requires one. If you are having pain that isn't improving, get a full evaluation from a physical therapist or physician who understands runners!
See you out there on the roads and trails!