Running puts significant strain on your back, legs, ankles, hips, and feet. Therefore, whether are preparing for an upcoming marathon or you are simply running to keep fit, wearing the right shoes for your feet is key. There are various types of running shoes, each with a different target audience. Some of the most popular ones include:
Stability running shoes are shoes equipped with supportive features in the arch section, which provide help to provide support, comfort, and stability. These shoes are mainly designed for moderate over-pronators. Since the foot of over-pronators tends to tilt inwards, the supportive features under the arch will help to bring the foot to normal or neutral alignment. Compared to other types of running shoes, stability sneakers offer a nice blend of cushioning and motion control. As noted above, stability shoes are mainly designed for over-pronators. Therefore, they are not meant for everyone. For instance, if you have neutral pronation and you run with stability trainers, then you might end up injuring your feet. When you are buying stability shoes, you should consider the following features.
- Medial post: The medial post is the main stability feature in these shoes. It’s located on the inner or medial side of the shoe, thus helping to correct or minimize inward tilt. Made of hard foam, the medial post is designed to absorb shock and pressure, while slowing down the pronation motion. Considering that running shoes are mean to absorb a significant amount of the shock that comes from your body weight, the medial post should also supply some form of cushioning. Therefore, avoid stability shoes whose medial foam is too hard.
- Heel counter: When purchasing stability running shoes, make sure the heel counter wraps around the heel area completely, to minimize excessive movement.
- Roomy and contoured footbed: The midsole fitted in stability shoes should not extend beyond the flex point since it will inhibit flexibility when you are running or walking. Also, there should be ample wiggle space for your toes.
- Supportive lacing system: Stability shoes should also have a supportive lacing system to ensure your foot is securely locked in place. Also, a supportive lacing system will also add comfort to shoes.
By offering arch and ankle support throughout your gait cycle, stability shoes will help to minimize over-pronation. They will enhance your running and prevent injuries that might result from over-pronation.
Motion Control Shoes
Motion control shoes are a type of running shoes designed for runners with flat feet or low arches. If your foot has a minimal arch or no arch at all, then it will strike the ground with the outer edge. When that happens, the foot will be forced to rotate inward, in an attempt to bear the body weight. If the foot is not properly supported, then you might end up with leg and foot injuries. And this is where motion control shoes come in. They feature a rigid upper, which supplies maximum support to runners with overpronation.
The upper can be made of synthetic materials or leather. Motion control shoes may also come with a breathable mesh, to enable the feet to breathe comfortably when you are walking or running. Just like the upper, their midsole is also rigid. The midsole is usually made of hard but comfortable materials such as EVA, designed to offer stability and control. Apart from preventing leg and foot injuries, motion control running shoes will also help to reduce muscle fatigue, for runners with overpronating feet. Motion control running shoes can also help to minimize or alleviate knee pain around the patella.
Cushioned shoes are designed for runners with high arches. If you have high arches, your foot will not roll inward enough. And when that happens, only the outer part of the foot will make contact with the ground, thus causing the ankle to roll outward. Runners with high arches are prone to knee problems and shin splints, due to lack of ample shock absorption in their feet. Cushioned running shoes will absorb the shock that is exerted on your ankles, thus helping to prevent ankle injuries. Cushioned shoes are more flexible than stability and motion control shoes. Also, they don’t come with supportive features such as medial posts. If you suffer from frequent ankle sprains and knee problems, there is a high chance that you have high arches. Wearing cushioned running shoes will help to alleviate some of those problems.
Minimalist shoes are quite different from ordinary running shoes. Conventional running shoes are equipped with some form of cushioning or padding, which means that the heel will strike the ground first. Minimalist shoes, on the other hand, don’t have any cushioning or padding. Therefore, the forefoot or the midfoot will touch the ground first. Due to the lack of padding, minimalist running shoes are also lighter than conventional running shoes. In fact, they are the lightest running shoes that you can find on the market today. Also, minimalist shoes don’t have any form of arch support. Most come with a heel drop of 8 mm or less, which means you will be feeling as if you are running barefoot. Most minimalist shoes are made of silicone rubber, synthetic materials, and rubber composite.
If you’ve been using ordinary running shoes and you want to transition to minimalist shoes, then you need to start slow and be patient. You can start by walking in them for a week or so to see how your legs and feet react. If you don’t experience any discomfort or pain, then you can now go for a short run. A 30-minute job will help your feet to get used to these shoes. During your jog, you should pay attention to how your forefoot and midfoot strike the ground. With time, you will strengthen your lower legs and feet.
Sometimes, you might experience calf tightness after a run. However, this is normal, and there is nothing to worry about. You simply need to ensure that you stretch your legs and feet adequately before you go jogging with these shoes. Also, you need to combine your transition to these shoes with some core strengthening exercises or Pilates. Considering that you are switching to minimalist running shoes to minimize injuries and improve your posture, it’s important to strengthen the muscles responsible for body balance. If you’ve had leg and foot injuries in the past due to running, it’s highly advisable to consult a physician first. The foot specialist will examine your feet and then recommend the best options for you. You should also note that minimalist running shoes can build unpleasant odors quite fast, due to their design. Therefore, make sure that you wash and clean them regularly.
Before you buy running shoes, make sure they are the right pair for your feet. By wearing an ill-fitting pair of shoes, you will be exposing your body to leg, back and foot injuries. Besides, it will be a complete waste of your time and money. On the other hand, purchasing the right pair of shoes for your needs will help you to run comfortably while increasing your performance and efficiency. However, you should always remember that finding the perfect pair of running shoes is more of a trial and error process. But once you know what you are looking for, you can either purchase a pair from a store near you or order online.