Performance Shoes: A Tool To Help Us Run, Part 1 – Our feet
June 9, 2016
Performance Shoes: A Tool To Help Us Run, Part 3 – Injury and Footwear
July 4, 2016

Performance Shoes: A tool to help us run – Part 2: What do you look for?

What do you look for in performance footwear and what running shoes do you wear?

The most important aspects of an ideal performance shoe for me is that it provides firm cushioning, minimal heel to toe drop, is lightweight and that it works in sync with my feet. This in turn will ensure good sensory input to my body so that I can achieve stability from the foot level up. Good footwear has been shown to increase internal stability and decrease onset time to achieve stabilisation via postural changes.

I train and race in On running shoes, specifically the Cloudsurfers and Cloudracers. These are super light-weight, provide an even flow through geometry, have stiff and responsive cushioning, and a firm platform for propulsion. They feel like a part of my foot.

It is important to train in your racing shoes 1-2x per week. So I wear the Cloudracers for my track and tempo run sessions and wear the Cloudsurfers for long runs, tempo runs and recovery sessions. The Clouds are perfect as a daily casual shoe.

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Topic: Injury and footwear

As previously discussed it is crucial in almost all situations to wear shoes whilst running to protect our feet. And, we have discussed the many features of ideal performance shoes to assist. Footwear may help to prevent injury or contribute to injury.

Footwear changes the way we run. It has an impact on our:

  • Cadence,
  • Stride length
  • Contact style
  • Kinematics
  • Kinetics
  • Economy

It has been shows that barefooted runners have a reduced step length, increased cadence, and more of a forefoot strike as compared to running with shoes on.

It is interesting to note that studies show footwear increases our:

  • knee flexion torque by 36%
  • knee varus torque by 38%
  • hip internal rotation torque by 54%

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These increases infer greater load on the structure and could be an explanation for some injuries; such as patellofemoral pain syndrome (a common knee injury), as proposed causes are weakened vastus medialis, tight lateral patella fascia, rotational imbalance in the femur and patella compressing against the trochlear groove.

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As peak forces go up we tend to have more activation of those tissues and hence more compression in the groove and more stress. So traditional higher heel to toe drop (24mm to 12mm) shoes with medial posting, increases knee flexion torque increasing medial compression of the knee joint.

The primary cause of medial knee OA is attributed to this increase in varus torque of the knee.

There are so many injuries that can be caused by increase rotational imbalances at the hip, so you want to avoid shoes which will put you at risk of increasing this.

See the team at Central Podiatry if you are in need of an assessment, treatment of an injury or further advice. And always visit a reputable and specialist footwear fitting sports shoe shop like Pure Performance at Warners Bay or the Junction.

With so many styles and brand of shoes on the market how can we determine what the right shoe is?

We need to focus on the individual when buying shoes; their activity, running history, stability and mobility of the forefoot and ankle joints.

  • Distance of running: 5km or Marathon, racing flats can be worn for a marathon but this would not be as economic and would place higher metabolic demands on the body rather than wearing a shoe that can absorb some of that stress.
  • Running surface: trail or track
  • Previous pathology: current injury, or permanent changes in mechanics due to previous injury. This should always be assessed by a professional.
  • Orthoses– what is the goal of these and do these combine well with the shoe type
  • Place of Purchase. When you buy from a reputable store you can ensure quality of the shoes, and be certain that if there are issues they will help to resolve it. Around 20% of running shoes can have a fault with them and these may end up being sold cheap on the internet, you don’t want to risk wearing these due to risk of injury.
  • Durability. Shoes have a life span of around 500-800km, or 3-6months. Midsole loses around 50% of cushion after around 750km

 

If lighter weight shoes = better performance is running barefoot faster?

For every 100 grams added per foot, energy cost increases by approximately 1% whether running barefoot or shod. Running barefoot and in lightweight shoes do not significantly differ in energy cost. When controlling for shoe/foot mass, running in lightweight shoes requires 3-4% less energy than running barefoot.

10mm of firm cushioning will offset some of the load in the foot as opposed to a zero drop. It will improve the capacity of the body to dampen load, stabilise and push off. This will offset the load the foot has to do internally.

  • You must have the strength, mobility and skill before moving into less shoes – this is absolutely critical.

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Holly Khan
Holly Khan
Holly Khan is the principle senior podiatrist at Central Podiatry. As a passionate and competitive triathlete she has focused her skills on becoming a specialist in musculoskeletal sport injuries of the lower half of the body. Holly has thrived on freeing people of pain since commencing her podiatry profession in 2008 and is dedicated to continuing to improve her skills to gain top treatment results.

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