Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Running Shoe Clinic

Our Title Nine/HealthFIT Running Group had the pleasure of listening to Jim Gothers, owner of The Runner’s High, give a talk on running shoes. Here’s what you missed!

The proper equipment for running is absolutely essential to maximize your comfort, prevent injuries and improve performance.

The first thing to pay attention to is your feet. Pronation is the natural inward rotation of your foot as you walk. “Pronation is not a bad thing; it helps the body absorb impact, but not supporting overpronanation can cause foot pain or knee pain.” Jim says. “Besides providing protection from the impact forces of running, the key thing a running shoe addresses is support for pronation.”

To measure how much your foot elongates or pronates,
you can use a Brannock Device at a shoe store,Brannock

or a piece of paper at home.measure_foot(Instructions here.)

First, measure each foot while sitting down. Then, measure each foot while bearing all your weight on it.

If your foot size changes less than .5 of a Brannock size or .25 of an inch, you have a very stable foot and don’t need much added stability in a running shoe – your goal should be cushioning.

If your foot changes between .5 and 1.5 sizes (.25 inch and .75 inches), you want to look for a shoe that give you stability, or even motion control.

The experts of The Runner’s High also use a final visual analysis to make sure your shoes help prevent excessive inward rotation, if needed.

You can tell how much motion control a shoe has by twisting it in the direction your foot will normally pronate. You can also tell by whether the color on the sole of the shoe changes: a solid color will mean the emphasis is on cushioning, while color changes indicate material changes and added reinforcement to stabilize your foot.

If you look at the outsole of a shoe, you can tell how much stability it will give you. A boxy shoe with very little cutout where the arch is will give you more stability, whereas a shoe sole that’s narrower with more curves will give you less stability.

You can also peak underneath the insole of a shoe to see if it’s slip-lasted, combination-lasted or straight-lasted. Slip-lasting will show all the stitches, combination-lasting will show the stitches in the front of the foot and have a board inserted in the heel area, and straight-lasted will have a board the full length. More board equals more stability.

Running shoes should always feel comfortable as soon as you put them on. Yes, they’ll break-in and get softer, but any place that rubs immediately is a blister asking to happen.

Also available at The Runner's High are aftermarket insoles by Superfeet, Powerstep, Spenco, etc. “These inserts can help provide more support to any shoe and can control movement within the shoe.” Jim points out. “They give the foot a more stable platform and foundation.”

The next thing to pay attention to is your socks. You definitely don’t want to wear cotton socks for running. They’ll retain moisture around your foot and lose their shape. A synthetic sock that wicks the sweat away form your foot is the way to go. I’ve used the WrightSock with their double layer anti-blister system for decades and love them. Jim introduced us to Balega socks. They fit like a glove and have soft threads that provide blister protection and amazing comfort. I may be switching over!

Running Bras
Your bras are the next part of your running apparel you should pay attention to. Keep in mind your running bras have a shelf life of about 52 washings before they stretch and lose their shape and support, so you should be thinking about new bras about every other new shoe purchase. Title Nine has an amazing selection, and their staff can answer all your bra questions!

For more expert help with your running shoe needs, see Jim Gothers or one of his knowledgeable staff members at The Runner’s High. I can’t say enough about their expertise and exceptional customer service!

Committed to your health,

The Runner’s High/Fleet Feet
859 Santa Cruz Ave.
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 325 – 9432

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