[This is a guest pass R.Brown – the founder of Runabees.com where he offers tips on choosing appropriate footwear mainly for athletes but also for people of all walks of life. Visit his site to learn how to choose the most suitable shoes for your activity and foot type.]
The biggest fear of avid runners is getting an injury which can stop them from running or participating in a race. Most injuries are preventable, if you take care to wear proper running shoes and not overtrain. There are certain preventive measures which can be taken to avoid running related injuries. By taking proper care of your feet, you can ensure that they stay pain free and injury free and that your running performance can enhance over time.
- Avoid getting plantar fasciitis by wearing properly formed and sized shoes with enough cushioning and support. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common running related health issues, and is often due to wearing inappropriate shoes and to overuse.
- Always take the time to warm up and cool down when you are running. Rather than stretching before a run, do some dynamic exercises, such as star jumps, arm circles or lateral lunges. This will help make your muscles better prepared for the run. After you are done running, allow your feet and legs to cool down by stretching not only the calves and quad, but the toes and arches as well. You can try spelling out the alphabet with your toes, or stretch the arches by gripping and releasing a towel on the floor with your bare feet.
- Improve your running form. Make sure you know and can control your gait cycle. Take extra care to ensure proper initial contact of your foot with the ground. If you land heavily on your heels, this continuous hard impact can cause damage to your feet. Try taking lighter steps and landing between your midfoot and heel instead. Roll the heel forward rapidly while keeping the ankle slightly flexed to make the impact easier on the foot.
- Try to improve our running posture as a whole, which includes: running with a relaxed and straightened neck, bent arms moving from the shoulders, slight side to side movement of the waist and hips and light landing of the feet on the ground. Keep the core tight and engaged, and ensure that your toes and pointing forward. Your feet should land under your body to ensure you prevent injuries of the hamstrings and knees which can commonly occur if your feet land in front of your body. You can do this by taking shorter strides, and engaging in a quick turnover of the legs when you are running.
- Make sure you wear the proper types of running shoes or orthotic inserts in case you are an underponator or overpronator. This will help prevent injuries and will make your performance better. Getting the right shoes for your foot shape, size and gait type is very important for your performance and safety from injuries when running. People with high arches who overpronate should stay away from minimalist shoes and look for running shoes which provide proper support. Overpronators should choose shoes with extra stability, and supinators should run in neutral or universal running shoes. The proper position of your feet and the Achilles tendons is at 12 o’clock, so make sure your running shoes provide this positioning when you are running. If you deviate from this position, you may want to get stability shoes with a midsole wedge which is comfortable for you and which will guide your feet into the proper positioning. If you supinate, you should allow more freedom for the feet, and thus choose an un-supported shoe with flexibility or cushioning.
- Analyze your foot type, shape, size and gait type. Always measure both feet, because in time your foot size may change, and also it is perfectly normal that one of the feet is bigger than the other. Ask a podiatrist or an athletic shoe store assistant to help analyze your gait type. The gait type can also be determined by analyzing the wear on your old running shoes. Place the shoe on a flat surface pointing toes forward and examine them from every side. If they are worn from the outward or inward sides, you most likely pronate. Another way to determine your gait type is by asking somebody to make a video of your feet when you are running and watch the video, or ask an expert to watch it and see if you overpronate or underpronate. Your arch type can be determined with a “wet test” – wet your feet and step on a piece of paper. By the print you can determine whether you have high arches or fat feet. A normally arched foot should leave a print with a wide band on the side which connects the ball and the heel of the foot.
- If you have plantar fasciitis, choose a quality shoe suitable for alleviating the condition such as these here. Often plantar fasciitis happens due to a shoe which is too restricting or one which has too much support which causes muscle weakness and an inflammation which can be very painful and uncomfortable.
Remember, there are many reasons for foot pain. Consult your podiatrist to make sure that the pain is actually due to plantar fasciitis, and not something else.