What to look for when purchasing runners.....
Who wants to hear some fun foot facts? I know, it's a riveting opening stanza to this week's blog, however I hope to enlighten you on some interesting data pertaining to our lower body anatomy...
Did you know:
- The foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles and tendons all holding the foot together and allowing it to move in a variety of ways (Source: American Podiatric Association)
- 25% of all bones are in your feet. When these bones are out of kilter, it is likely that so is the rest of your body (Source: American Podiatric Association)
- There are 250,000 sweat glands in a pair of feet. Sweat glands excrete as much as 500 ml per day (Source: Australian Podiatry Association Vic.)
- Only a small percentage of the population is born with foot problems. It is neglect, lack of awareness, and proper care – including ill fitting shoes – that can bring on problems (Source: Dr Scholl Australia).
Interesting statistics given our poor old feet have a pretty bad stigma and are very much an 'unloved' and undervalued part of our anatomy. To give you some further insight into how much some people abhor feet - the word 'podophobia' (fear of feet) actually exists! So now that you have been bought up to speed on all things feet, it brings me to this weeks topic - what sort of things should you look for when purchasing runners? I spoke to Saucony Brand Manager Levi Moss to ask some common questions regarding running shoes.
What should you look for in a running shoe?
With a plethora of brands offering a multitude of features, I personally think there are two things that are non-negotiable when looking to purchase running shoes:
1. Fit: Looking for a fit that works with your foot shape and type is integral. Some questions to ponder when selecting your shoe include:
- Does it lock your heal in place?
- Does it enable my foot to move in its natural planes? (flexion, extension, rotation etc...)
- Do my toes have enough room to splay and provide additional balance?
- Is the shoe wide enough or narrow enough to accommodate my foot shape/type?
2. Always try on your shoes before purchasing and always have an open mind outside of "brands." Trying different brands is a great way to find a good fit. By selecting your shoe on how it feels and fits your foot rather than purchasing it because of a brand bias, you will ultimately have a better outcome. Brands update their models (mostly) every 12 months. Accordingly the model you currently prefer may change and consequently the shoe may not fit and feel as it has previously.
When should you change your runners?
It really depends on how often you use them and the brand you are wearing as different brands will vary in wear and tear. However, lets say you are a member of the Change It Up family and you do 2-3 classes a week. I would consider this regular use meaning that the shoes cushioning is consistently being compressed and over time, will lose softness and response, potentially compromising the protective nature of the shoe. With many factors coming into play with shoe wear and tear, I always advise on "what your runners feel like?" If they feel lifeless and flat or you feel as though you are not being protected enough under foot, its time for a new pair! Your brain and body are the best assessors and will provide vital feedback as to how well your shoes are performing - listen to them!
What materials are best for breathability?
Most running shoe companies place a big emphasis on breathability. Key features to look for in the upper shoe are:
- No stitching overlays on the upper (can cause irritation to the foot)
- Open but not large holes in the mesh
- Moisture wicking materials work best for next to skin feel but also moisture management wicking the sweat away from your foot inside your shoe.
What's the best way to ensure you are wearing the right shoe for you?
Advice and reviews are where I would recommend to start. There are great reviews on all brands and models globally (eg The Running Warehouse, Runners Tribe and Runners World mag). Retailers that enable you to try on multiple brands, have a fitting process (keeping in mind that your brain will tell you what feels and fits well.....don't forget it's what you like not what the retail staff want to sell you!). The Running Company, the Athletes Foot and other specialty retailers normally give you fantastic advice. The most proximal place to the Macedon Ranges I would recommend would be The Running Company Yarraville - Brad and Renee are the best people and will always put you first before brand or profit!. Go with what feels good and refer to how the shoe fits as mentioned previously.
Why do you need to change shoe types?
Mixing up brands and shoe types is a great way to continue to strengthen your foot and lower limbs. When your body gets used to one shoe type repetitively, it can shut down and get a little lazy, potentially causing niggles and injuries. Refreshing your shoes along with trying new brands and types could help reactivate lower limbs and muscles in your foot to help keep you strong and injury free. This being said, it is important that you still get fitted and seek the advice from trusted and reputable sources. Trying new things is great however it may not always be the right thing for you......
Well there you have it! I hope you found that as insightful as I did? To me it has highlighted the importance of fit as I am the first to admit I like a 'pretty' looking runner! To give you a more practical insight into running shoes, we are hoping to do another Saucony 'wear test' in November with Levi. Watch this space for times and dates of this event. Thanks again to Levi for his illuminating insight into all things running shoes!