If you are the parent of a child who is just beginning outdoor track for the first time, you may be confused as to what kind of shoes are the best to purchase. Will your child need one pair of shoes, or two pairs of shoes, one for practice and one for competition?
Today's shoes have a wide variety of styles, sizes/widths, and variance on the type of sport. Many young athletes are well-suited for stripped-down shoes because they are still light, athletic, and haven't developed bad habits yet. Coach Jay Johnson, director of the Boulder Running Camps says, "Because these kids are light, I don't think they need a big shoe with a lot of motion control... a few do, but their mechanics will be obvious. A shoe lower to the ground, with a 4mm heel-to-toe drop, is a great shoe for a skinny ninth grader or a 10th grader to train in." Steve Magness, coach for runners from high school age to elite says that young athletes are a blank slate, and can run in a lightweight trainer that has less cushioning and control without the risk of injury. By running in lightweight shoes, they will develop good habits as well.
Coach Greg Weich, who has trained runners for 17 years in the Colorado high school system says that he never makes a general shoe statement to young athletes. He's seen a lot of exceptions and instead recommends that students go to a specialty store where a professional fitter will match the right shoe with the right foot. The specialist will assess gait, biomechanics, training regimen, volume of running, and previous injuries.
When Weich does recommend shoes, he suggests a variety of shoes, like traditional trainers, competition sneakers, and a minimalist shoe. "If the athlete can only purchase one pair of shoes, I go with the least amount of shoe (minimalist slant) that provides solid stability. Many products, such as the Brooks Defyance and the Nike Zoom Elite provide inherent stability without utilizing stabilizing features," Weich said.
However, you may not live close to a specialty shop where your child can be professionally fitted, or be able to afford more expensive shoes. When looking at shoes in a department store, look at the models that are labeled lightweight trainer or heavier road racers. Check out reviews beforehand as well: if the review says it would make a good marathon shoe, then it would be a good option for a young distance runner. Johnson says, "Many of the racing flats are less expensive, and you can do not only your track work in these shoes, but you can do your threshold work and fartlek runs in them as well."
Soft and squishy shoes should be avoided, says physical therapist Jay Dichary, director of the SPEED Performance Clinic and Motion Analysis Lab Coordinator at the University of Virginia. This particular type of shoe makes it more difficult for runners to find stability. Firm shoes allow the runner to stabilize their body and develop better muscle control.
Athletes who are proficient runners and have no history of injuries or biomechanical problems can be put in more minimalist shoes, like New Balance Minimus Road, Merrell Road Glove, or Brooks Pure Connect.
Heavier runners will need more shoe underfoot, and should look for such shoes as Mizuno Elixir or Rider, Saucony Mirage, Brooks Ravena, New Balance 980, or Asics Gel-Noosa.
We've learned over the past decade that many injuries do not come from the shoes athletes are wearing, but instead from poor training and biomechanical problems. Dichary says, "Shoes do play a role, but the body plays an even bigger role." Students who are having running injuries should consult a specialist who specializes in running or sports injuries. "Their body is growing at such a fast rate- but the rate is different for bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The stresses running places on the body can affect one type of tissue more than another. If you know what to look for, it's honestly pretty easy to correct bad habits in kids- because these habits go beyond footwear," added Dichary.
Reference: Running Times
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
Visit our website, like our page on Facebook, and follow our tweets on Twitter.