Make an Educated Decision about Running Shoe Selection

As a running technique coach, a common question I’m asked is:

“what running shoes should I use?”

Thankfully, I work closely with a very knowledgeable and forward-thinking podiatrist here in London, named Ian Griffiths (@Sports_Pod).

He has created the following video to help runners make a more educated decision about this very complex subject.

Wet Foot Test & Stability Paradigm

Ian’s first point is one I find myself reiterating all the time. There is a distinct lack of science to support the most widely advised and used methods of shoe selection: methods such as the wet foot test and picking differing levels of support/stability or motion control footwear based on this static indication of foot posture.

The biggest issue with this is that research has shown poor correlation between how an athlete’s foot sits statically versus how it then moves dynamically during running and walking gait.

Interestingly – one characteristic of shoe fitting which HAS been linked to a reduction in injury frequency is comfort. Very simple, but very important!

What is ‘Comfort’ to You?

Ian then goes on to elaborate how certain key factors influence the levels of comfort a given individual runner will feel in a given shoe.

Factors such as:

  • Stack Height / Cushioning
  • ‘Drop’ or Pitch
  • Width

…will all contribute to how a shoe (or selection of shoes) will feel on the run. I prefer a responsive feel under foot, and have limited ankle dorsiflexion – thus I run most of my milage in minimalist shoes with a 4mm drop (rather than zero-drop) such as the Saucony Kinvara. My partner prefers a little more cushioning and runs in the Asics Cumulus. We all differ greatly, and perceive comfort differently.

Running Technique: Form Before Footwear

Certain shoes can indeed help to facilitate a certain desired change in technique, and thus loading of specific tissues. However, shoe choice alone cannot dictate or ‘fix’ your running technique. Running technique should be individual specific, although there are a number of constants in terms of form that we want to see from all runners to help them run with ‘good form’.

Here’s a link to an online running technique course which covers many of these fundamental principals of good running form (50% Discount – Click Here).

As Ian nicely sums-up in this video. By improving your running form to a style optimal for your own body, you probably slightly increase your appropriate running footwear options. I’ve certainly found that to be true with my own running, and many of the athletes I work with.

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