A Podiatrists guide to running shoes

Hi!

I’m Luke, a Podiatrist at Hunter Podiatry Services. Let’s talk about shoes! 

I’ve come from a long background of fitting running and walking shoes in and around the Newcastle area. Whether you’re a walker, plodder or gung-ho runner, we all need the right shoes to get us from A to B. I’ll cover a few of the main types of footwear with some examples of particular shoes, what they’re most useful for and what sets them apart from other styles. I’ll also share with you some tips and tricks to understand what to look for when your shoes are fatiguing, and how to extend the life of your shoes. So, let’s get right into it.

 

High Cushion Footwear

These shoes are stacked full of cushion and are designed to keep your feet cushioned and joints protected for long walks or runs. They’re perfect for the weekend long run or for those that suffer from joint or shock induced pain.

Supportive

Asics Gel-Kayano 27: A staple of running shoes for the past 20 odd years. This shoe combines a super soft, gel-based cushioning system, Dynamic Duomax support system and a seamless one-piece that provides great comfort for the pronated foot type, as well as adapting to any lumps and bumps your foot might have. These are available in both standard and wide fittings.

Neutral

Brooks Ghost 13: Locked and loaded for supreme cushioning and smooth ride from heel to forefoot. Another mainstay in running footwear, the new series Ghost 13 features a seamless, breathable upper to keep your feet cool without sacrificing the fit. Available in standard and wide fittings, as well as a specific narrow fitting for the ladies.

 

Something funky

HokaOneOne Bondi: Maximal cushioning and a real treat for your feet. Designed on a rocker style sole, they’re a completely different feel to most conventional shoes and were specifically designed for longer duration activities. These are for the neutral to supinated foot types and are available in both standard and wide fittings.

 

 

Lightweight Footwear

Perfect for anything up to 10km for the everyday athlete. These shoes are typically lighter in weight compared to the previously mentioned shoes. They’re fantastic for a fast 5km, tempo-style run or a race-day 10km. Even though we’re sacrificing weight, the cushion and responsiveness remain. 

Supportive

Brooks Bedlam: Lightweight by design, but supportive where you need it. The Bedlam features responsive cushioning throughout with the backing of Brooks ‘GuideRail’ technology to maintain efficient foot posture.

Neutral

Saucony Kinvara: Built on a wide, stable platform these are fantastic for the local ParkRun or short walk. Super lightweight with a boxy toe area for the slightly wider foot types.

Something funky

ON Cloudsurfer: Looks like something that’s come out of a sci-fi movie. The “lug” system on the sole of the shoes are designed to compress and absorb shock at foot strike but provide a responsive propulsive phase of the running cycle. Great for neutral runners.

 

 How do I get extra life from my walking/running shoes?

Running or walking shoes have an average life between 400-600km for more cushioned shoes. Lightweight shoes typically have a life of around 300-500km.

If you use these shoes every day for exercise or work, it’s a great idea to have two pairs on the go at once. Ideally, you should rotate these shoes for one day on and one day off. This allows the cushion to “bounce back”, rather than getting compressed every day.

 Having specific pairs of shoes;  let’s use an example for runners.

–       For longer runs I would suggest using a higher cushioned, more protective shoe to assist with impact throughout joints and help with muscular fatigue.

–       For medium to short or tempo style runs it’s ideal to use a lighter, less cushioned shoe. This allows your muscles to work harder and therefore get stronger.

–       For the competitive races it’s time to strip off as much weight as possible, which usually means losing a bit of cushion too.

 

When do I know it’s time to replace my shoes?

 As much as we can use some tips and tricks to extend the life of shoes, at some stage they do need to be demoted to gardening shoes. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

 

 

Things to feel for:

–       Increased tiredness in your feet and legs compared to normal. Generally, this means your body is working in overdrive to take shock and control excess motion.

–       New niggles in your feet or legs. Trust your body, it’s a clever thing!

–       Lack of cushion or spring

–       They don’t support your foot like they once did

Things to look for:

–       Major compression lines in the midsole. These are a dead give-away for when your shoe is starting to fatigue, which means they may not be giving your feet the most amount of love.

–       Wear and tear on tread patterns. Not the be all and end all, but another handy visual cue to suggest you’ve done some miles.

–       Stretching of the upper. Have you ever put your favourite, old shoes on and it feels like its flopping around? Imagine how hard your small foot muscles need to work to maintain a fixed location in that shoe.

–       The number of kilometers you’ve worn the shoes for. It’s easy these days because we can get technology to track it! Check out some shoe tracking apps

  

Factors that affect how long your shoes will last

There are a few factors, some we can change and some we can’t. I’ve worked hard to grow to 6 foot 5, but unfortunately that’s something I can’t change in a hurry now. But what I can change is being conscious of how I’m wearing my shoes and what I’m using them for.

 The size of the human being

Let’s use the example of myself. I’m around 6 foot 5 and 100kg (bit heavy I know, but we’re working on it). Because I’m bigger and heavier, I typically go through shoes faster than someone half my size. The pressure that my body puts through footwear when I go for a run or walk is far greater than a 50kg person – therefore I need to replace them more often.

 Having shoes that are training specific

If you use your running or walking shoes for everything, naturally they will deteriorate faster. Likewise using your soft, high cushioned shoes in the gym when lifting heavy weight will compress cushioning materials faster. So, if you like cross training, it’s definitely time to consider adding a new pair of shoes to your arsenal.

 

 Where to buy them

Like most things nowadays, shoe fittings are forever changing, and their technology is always updating. I will always, always recommend trying on your shoes before buying them and purchasing them through a local footwear specialist. The service and guarantee they can provide is second to none.

There you have it folks, I hope this helps! Please feel free to contact any of our Podiatrists for a footwear assessment or if you have any other questions, we’re always happy to see you.

 

Luke Webster, Podiatrist

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