19 Oct Osteopathic guide to buying running shoes
Osteopathic guide to buying running shoes
Don’t make a mistake and spend £100s on a pair of shoes that don’t work for you. When looking for the correct running shoes it can be a bit of a jungle out there with so many different types to choose from. This Osteopathic guide to buying running shoes will solve that problem for you.
At the bottom of this article is a list of the top running shoe brands out there. Visiting their individual website will give you a lot of information about the best running shoe for you. As a general rule there are categories for the type of terrain you are using, such as;
Within these categories you also have the type of fit you need depending on the severity of pronation or supination you have, plus other special requirements you may have.
Lastly there is the type of shoe to suit your running style, whether it be heel strike, midfoot strike or forefoot strike.
All the different shoe companies have many patented technologies that all sound highly intelligent and impressive but whatever it is they say, you want to make sure you check and consider the following with regards to your own feet.
How well can your ankle dorsiflex?
You need to ask yourself two questions. How much dorsiflexion can you achieve and how stiff this dorsiflexion movement feels? You should be able to achieve 10 degrees of dorsiflexion in a non-weight bearing seated position (you may need someone to help you). Also note how stiff it feels to push your foot into full dorsiflexion.
Determining this will help you understand how high a heel you want. Personally I think modern running shoes are developing far too high a heel and this can lead to something known as ankle equinus.
Ankle equinus is the medical term given to shortening of the Achilles tendon leading to reduction of dorsiflexion at the ankle. So running with a high heel can lead to a shortening of the Achilles tendon. Long term shortening of a tendon like this will undoubtedly lead to Achilles tendonitis and/or shin splints.
HOWEVER if you already have a reduced dorsiflexion movement or a stiff movement, it may help to start off with higher than normal heel and gradually acclimatise over time to a reduced heel size. Having the slight heel increase will help with supporting your reduced dorsiflexion and prevent overstrain to the Achilles tendon.
When determining the degree of heel raise you need – you want to look for phrases such as;
Heel to toe differential
Heel to toe offset
Heel to toe lift
How strong is your ankle joint?
If you have sustained any form of ankle sprain in your life you should consider this when buying your running shoes. Lateral sprains (outside of the ankle) are the most common with medial (inside of the ankle) being the most severe.
The subtalar joint produces the small movements called inversion and eversion. When ligaments are torn, which is what a sprain is, they are permanently stretched. Ligaments do not contain any elastic properties, so any unnatural force that causes the ligament to elongate will mean that ligament is permanently elongated because there is no elasticity to bring the ligament back to its original position.
This means the ligament no longer functions properly to support the subtalar joint and therefore the inversion/eversion movements can increase.
So it is important to consider solid ankle support to reduce this increased inversion/eversion movement. If this movement is severe in some people they are more prone to spraining their ankle again when running.
Additionally your leg muscles will have to work harder to prevent and stop the ankle producing too much of this movement and to help maintain balance. If your leg muscle have to over work then you will eventually get your normal running injuries.
How good is your medial arch?
With a wet foot, walk on a coloured piece of A4 paper and look at the impression your foot leaves behind. The video below will explain the results.
It is also a pretty good video at grasping the basics for what to look for in a running shoe. The advice at the end is specific for their shoes and catalogue. Feel free to check out their website. But you still need to have a look around and understand more comprehensively what you need for you foot.
Most people have normal to over pronated arches. This means you will want to look for a running shoe to support your medial arch to the degree to which it has collapsed. Or find a running shoe that is neutral/normal if you have a good solid medial arch.
Ideally, unless you have completely flat feet I would still buy neutral. I do not necessarily believe it is always good to have support. Sometimes it is good to allow your feet to strengthen and adjust to the demands by themselves. Of course this is individual and there are those that would definitely benefit from support.
High arches on the other hand mean you will want support for the toes, especially at the little toe area. This is where most of the pressure will go as the spring mechanism of the medial arch is bypassed.
So you want running shoes that accommodate this. This is often called ‘mid sole cushioning’ or ‘lateral arch cushioning’.
Wide or thin feet?
Shoe companies often talk about foot spread or how wide the shoe is. This is also beneficial to consider for you that have quite wide or thin feet. When you run your feet will naturally expand and it is wise to take this into consideration when buying your running shoes.
If your shoes are already quite tight before you run then this will not allow much natural expansion. Alternatively if they are very loose you risk getting blisters through excessive rubbing from the foot movement within the shoe.
With this you can also consider any calluses or bunions you may have too. You want make sure your running shoes have a good mid sole width. Mid sole width will allow plenty of space for expansion of the foot, heat distribution and general air flow.
The best combination is have some space at the toe and forefoot end, but tight at the ankle end. Having it tight at the ankle will result in the whole foot staying fixed (avoiding excessive sliding & rubbing).
Lacing techniques for your running shoes.