Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What Are The 3 "P's" Of Running Shoes?

A pair of ASICS stability running shoes, model...
A pair of ASICS stability running shoes, model GEL-Kinsei (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the most common questions we get from our runners in our podiatric practice is "What shoes should I wear?". That question is different for every person, since what might fit on your foot may not fit on your running partner's. Think about it: you and your sister may both wear glasses, but will you have the same prescription lenses? The way you run is likely different from how your sister runs too.
When considering new running shoes, think of the three "p's": pattern, passion, and purpose.
There are three different types of foot patterns: normal, flat footed, and high arched. Your average person has a normal foot pattern, but when running traditionally, presents pronation upon heel strike. To slow pronation, this group of people should look for shoes with stability: heel counter, medial wedge, and dual-density midsole.
Those with flat feet should consider a motion control shoe, which is less flexible due to an increased dual density foam and a very rigid heel counter. This shoe helps correct the overpronation that will occur during running.
In cases of high arches, these runners should look for a neutral cushioned shoe which will compensate for the lack of shock absorption, allow for flexibility, and promote foot movement.
There are just about as many different styles of running as there as types of feet. From traditional heel-toe, to barefoot, to alterations in cadence, each style requires a different type of shoe.
How you strike the ground is impacted by your footwear, or lack thereof. A heel-to-toe drop is a measure of the difference in the height of the shoe from the heel to the forefoot. Traditional running shoes have drops from 8-12 mm, contrasted to minimalist shoes, which can be as low as 0 mm.
75% of runners are heel strikers, with 24% striking at the midfoot. If you are a heel striker, it is important to prevent excessive strain on the Achilles tendon by introducing shoes with smaller heel-to-toe drops gradually.
With shoe technology advancements, we better understand how the construction of shoes affects how people run in them. For example, shoes with a lateral flare in the heel may cause an increase in pronation during the initial stages of running and lead to anteromedial compartment syndrome. Those with plantar fasciitis will find comfort in shoes with increased cushioning in the heel, because it will take pressure off the plantar fascia.
The rise of minimalist shoes in the running market allows for different purposes as well. Minimalist shoes sometimes help in developing the intrinsic muscles of the foot. However, shoes with reduced heel-to-toe drops put more demands on the ankle, and reduced demand on the knee. Those shoes do require specific training for the foot to get used to the lack of shoe.
If you are a runner and have a foot problem, call our Newington, Kensington, or Middletown office to make an appointment.
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Sports Medicine Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington
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