How Extra Weight Affects Runners
Extra weight affects runners in all different ways. Heavy runners need to think more about arch support, overpronation, and form.
So how do you know if you’re a heavy runner?
Traditionally, runners are considered “heavy” if they have a BMI of over 25 or weigh over 90kg. It is best to weigh yourself in the morning right when you get up but after you have urinated. Do this regularly for a few days until you get an average and use that as your weight to calculate your BMI.
Though BMI is not a perfect science, it can provide a point of reference when shopping for the right pair of running shoes. To calculate your BMI use this formula: BMI = kg/m(squared).
Here is an overview of BMI for fitness weight:
- Under 18.5 is underweight
- 18.5 to 25 is normal
- 25 and over is overweight
Heavy runners need more support in the arch because chances are your feet do not have a high enough arch to support your body. In this case, the arch is not enough, which means your body has to compensate and you may experience pain in the legs, knees, ankles, and feet.
Too much pain can be discouraging, which is why the right shoes are important to support your arch, feet, and absorb that extra shock.
With additional shock placed on the joints, it’s critical for heavy runners to carefully assess biomechanics and running form. A good first step is to determine if you overpronate. For more information check out our article describing different pronation issues.
Many heavier runners tend to overpronate, which means you will need some shock absorption. Overpronation puts more stress on the ankles and knees, making it even more important for heavier runners to address these issues before injury occurs.
While some heavier runners may not have the biomechanical issues described above, another issue to be aware of is the durability of the outsole. Over time, the midsole and outsole will break down because of continuous use. Keep an eye on your running shoes and replace them when the outsole or midsole start to break down. This way, your feet stay healthy and you stay less prone to injuries.
A good way to tell you need new shoes is if you notice your shoes are a bit thinner, they don’t bounce back enough, or you are more sore than usual after runs. To make your shoes last longer, rotate two pairs of running shoes and make sure they are completely dry in between uses.
The Importance of Good Running Form
Proper running form is important for all runners, but focusing on running efficiently is vital for heavier runners, not only to improve performance but also to help stave off injury. Proper running form distributes shock more evenly, which minimizes damage to the joints and tendons.
General strength and conditioning are also key for healthy, efficient running. Strong legs, core, and back will help improve running form and also help prevent injury. For tips on strength training, see Randy’s list of considerations.
For tips on proper running form, take a look at Randy’s overview. James also has an excellent round up of the top five most important habits for efficient running.
Here is a brief overview of running form to get you started:
- Head — look directly in front of you
- Shoulders —— pull back and don’t hunch over
- Arms —— 90-degree angle, elbows at side
- Hands —— relaxed —— don’t squeeze
- Torso/Core —— strength train this area, keep core tight
- Hips —— lean slightly into the run
- Knees —— middle of feet so when the foot hits the ground right under the knee
- Legs —— 90-degree angle when you land to absorb shock
- Feet —— aim to hit the surface with the ball of your feet
What About Orthotics?
Orthotics can be helpful to relieve pain and prevent damage to people who are overweight. The best place to get these orthotics are from your doctor. The orthotics need to fit well, be relatively firm, and counteract the forces placed on the ankles and feet.
If you don’t have time to see a doctor for orthotics, an over-the-counter orthotic may work, as long as it fits properly. The PowerStep Orthotic provides enough support and is wide enough to counteract the force without digging into your feet.
Finding the right running shoes for heavier runners can help disperse the extra shock and weight put on the joints.
Make sure to practice proper form when you start running to get in good habits.
In addition, strength and conditioning can help improve your fun and help you achieve your overall fitness goals.
If you still have problems with the right shoes, talk to your local podiatrist to get fitted for custom orthotics.
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