One of the most under estimated pieces of equipment for any sports and recreational athlete is their trainers. According to the NHS website, 65% of people are wearing the wrong shoes for the activity they are taking part in. This is highlighting that those really nice looking fashionable trainers you wear to the gym may be some of the reason why your feet hurt when you run – there I said it.
Whether you are just starting Zumba classes, taking up high intensity exercise or racing Usain Bolt in the Olympics – the right sports shoe is going to directly influence your enjoyment, performance and comfort while participating in your chosen activity.
From years of assessing patients in clinics, one of the most frustrating things that I come across is when people happily buy a £200.00 pedometer touch screen watch and spend £150.00 on a nice looking gym outfit, but wear incorrectly fitted footwear, or unsupportive shoes for their activity because they aren’t willing to spend that little bit more on the right shoes. It makes no sense does it? Yet happens a lot.
Year on year, the sale of trainers and sports shoes in general are on the increase. Yet, when you look around sports shops I am becoming increasingly alarmed by the trend in cheap, more fashionable trainers over the more supportive and well structured brands of trainers and sports shoe.
Factors that need to be taken into account are:
1. Foot and leg function – There is never a “go-to shoe” or “best shoe” for any activity. Every single person moves in a different way and their technique when running and moving is different. Some people have tight muscles, some people are very flexible and some compensate for chronic long-term injuries. It is important for a professional biomechanical assessment to be undertaken by a Podiatrist to discuss these subjective differences with you, to guide you in the right sports shoe choice. It is also very important to ensure that you are issued with the right exercises to help improve your performance. A Podiatrist can also assess for orthotics to help support you and your anatomy to reduce the risk of injuries and to help ease current pain which is directly influencing your performance or hindering you achieving your goals.
2. Current shoe size – We are often led to believe that once you are a shoe size, that is it forever. This however, is not the case. Our feet change over time, some feet become wider, swollen or joints alter the width needed in shoes, for example bunions. It is vital that the right size and width fitting is measured to ensure you don’t have any external irritation to your feet.
3. Terrain you train on – Do you run on road? Do you play on soft ground at the weekend but 4G surfaces in the week? Do you do classes on hard gym floors? The surfaces you train on have a very large bearing on the density and types of soles you need. Some footwear types provide more stability, some offer more impact protection which directly impacts your comfort. For some activities where grip is needed, the right style of boot needs to be discussed.
4. Type of activity – Are you a slow, steady, long distance runner? Do you do high intensity training? Do you train using fartlek training? Do you do a lot of different types of activity? These questions need to be answered to help influence your choice of footwear.
The whole issue around picking sports footwear is very confusing, even for someone who has studied and looked at the many different types of footwear available on the market. It is no different for me. I have to wear ASIC arch supportive trainers with orthotics when I do high intensity training or general boot camps, mould studded Nike football boots for when I play 7 a side football on a Tuesday and Wednesday and then a pair of studded boots for any rare 11 a side matches I can play in Winter.
All of these were chosen because I knew what I was looking for. I have made mistakes in the past. I have worn neutral trainers which gave me arch pain, worn tight football boots which gave me blood blisters and hard skin. Once you know what is right for you, you can then be guided to certain types of sports shoes that can really help you.
At FootPro Podiatry the aim is to help first educate you about your body and how you move, then help guide you to the right types of sports footwear that may be suitable for you. We then provide exercises, strength training and orthotics to help improve performance, prevent injury and treat pain.