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Melbourne Marathon festival is fast approaching. As of yesterday, we are officially inside 6 weeks! With Melbourne mornings becoming more bearable and the sun staying out a little later after work, there is a springtime buzz around the Tan. Reported sightings of the odd singlet have even come through!
Now is a very important time in your training, as it is probably the last opportunity for one of our favourite past times; shoe shopping!
The reason this is our last real chance is due to a process known as adaptation. New shoes require a period of “wearing in,” as our bodies become accustomed to the changes they bring. In new shoes our lower limb joints move just a little differently, muscles contract and pull on tendons in a new manner and bones respond to a change in the distribution of ground reaction force (how our body weight hits the ground). We don’t want to introduce new stimuli to our muscles, tendons and bones in the few weeks leading in to race day with the consequences of late change; the dreaded injury!
Do I Need New Shoes?
Good question! If you have a pair of the old faithful type of numbers, then they should get you through, right? It is important to note that the life span on a general pair of runners is 800km, give or take. If you are not so big on tracking your km’s, then 10 months to a year is a good life for your runners. If you are heavy, heavy on your feet, wear them every day, or always run on the road then the life of your shoes is likely to be even less. My advice is go and talk to an expert, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Who Should I Ask?
I am a big fan of a local running specialty store. There are a few great examples in Melbourne.
They have stores in Camberwell, Prahran, Heathmont and Sandringham. With entry into a Melbourne Marathon event you receive a $50 voucher – well worth a look.
Located in Melbourne CBD, on Queen St.
For the Inner North, in Clifton Hill.
The reason I highly recommend that runners head to a specialty running store like those highlighted above is because they allow you to do exactly that, run.
What Type Of Shoes Should I Get?
There is new research to suggest that the most expert opinion in the process of purchasing a new pair of shoes is your very own. Research out of the University of Calgary has described a new idea in footwear prescription that is really quite simple. The ‘comfort filter’ describes a complex mechanism within your own body that identifies a ‘preferred movement pathway’ that your own body finds most efficient.
“Put simply, if a shoe is the most comfortable when trying on and running in a range of shoes, it is probably best for you”
However, there are a few fundamentals that we need to get right, and that is where the assistance of your local running specialty store comes to play.
- As a general rule I would say don’t change too much from the shoes you are currently running in (on the proviso that you have liked them, and are injury free).
- If you are in a traditional running shoe that has some built in support, don’t rush into a racing flat.
- Similarly, if you are successfully running in a lightweight shoe, don’t go into something too heavy with beefed up structure.
Pronation is a word that you have probably heard thrown around if you have purchased running shoes, or have read about online. Pronation is a natural movement of the human body. Foot pronation is a rolling in type action at a number of joints below the ankle. Pronation is one of your body’s shock absorbing mechanisms, and everyone, absolutely everyone (with a foot) will pronate to some degree. If that rolling in movement happens rapidly, then it can cause uneven shoe wear overtime, and some support built into a shoe can be helpful. Your foot pronating is not a reason to rush out and get a ‘supportive’ shoe. Again refer to the above advice. Don’t change too far from what you have been previously running in, and above all, be comfortable.
The Wear In Period
Now that you have your new pair of running shoes, we are back to this process of adaptation we touched on earlier. We know our new shoes will have some influence on the way our body weight is transferred into the ground – and therefore the way the ground puts force through our leg (for every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction – cheers Newton). The take home message here is introduce this change in force (the new shoes) gradually.
“As a general rule I ask my patients to do one third of their midweek type run in the new shoes, and listen to the body from there”
If you pull up well, then perhaps gradually increase the time spent in your new shoes. If however, you experience some muscle or foot soreness, take time at that reduced distance while your body adapts to your new shoes.
If you have any questions about footwear, or if you are finding it difficult to find a shoe that works for you please give us a call and come and see a Pride Podiatry Podiatrist at Pure Physio.
Good luck with the shoe shopping, and race day!
About the Author
Ben Westaway — Podiatrist
Ben has dedicated his career to the treatment of foot and lower limb pain and is extremely passionate about the treatment of running-related overuse injuries.