What runners should I wear?
The age old debate - What's the best footwear for me? Should I wear neutral runners? Stability runners? It’s going to For example when your heel hits the ground and your head bends forward your foot needs to flatten to allow an inward movement of your hips and knees.continue to be a great topic of discussion but let's see can we shed some light on it.
There are two terms used by major footwear brands to sell you the ‘dream shoe’. These words are pronation and supination and I am going to break them down and simplify the whole debate.
Pronation or pronated feet: Means you have FLAT FEET. Here is a pic of a man with flat feet.
Supination or supinated foot
The truth is that you need both supination and pronation to walk and run. This allows your glute muscle to engage and control your stride and it also helps in loading the muscle to propel you forward.
The opposite of this is supination and this happens when you are lifting your heel off the ground pushing off your toes to propel you forward. They both are linked and are key to good movement.
The big thing about Usain Bolt is….. yes his feet are flat as pancakes but he has control of the intrinsic foot muscles and the big glute muscles to create that arch in his foot. This allows him to go from a very flat foot to an arched foot through the proper position/control of his muscles.
So let's move on to that burning question, “will orthotics fix me?”.
I think of foot orthotics as braces for your teeth - You wear them for a period of time and then wait to see if your movement problem is fixed. Then you reassess the situation to see if they are really needed.
The truth is people love foot insoles because they’re popular, trendy and everyone knows what they are and everyone wants them. I believe that…. yes people do need them but it's rare. I have sent for five pairs in five years of working with athletes and the general public.
The fact is everyone is different. There is ignorance in the statement, that pronation or flat feet is bad. Having high arched feet is usually to blame for plantar fasciitis and heel pain so be careful what you wish for!
What I believe people should do is to go and get a good Movement Screen, or a P2P screen :) This will assess how your body is going to move when you run/walk. Then, if you still feel you need orthotics, get the screen done again after you buy them and see did your movement improve? The change should be instant.
The truth is in my clinic, I throw out more orthotics than I actually put in. Now I know that there is going to be someone out there disagreeing with me over this because, “their orthotics fixed them” and I hope they did because you were one of the lucky ones. Don't forget they can be a very powerful tool in determining how you walk and run. So get a good screen done along with buying a good pair.
What do I think? Well….I think it’s more important to get yourself a good pair of structured shoes. I have recently linked up with Jody ? from Ready to Run (R2R) to bring you my favourite shoes for running and walking.
The number one thing we look for in a pair of running shoes is a good heel. The Saucony shoes are my favourite. If anyone sees me wearing a green and black pair of ugly shoes in clinic, well they’re my Saucony’s, an excellent brand which incorporate an 8mm heel on all their shoes.
My thoughts are not for everyone, some people have run personal bests in a pair of Asics. Do you think I want you to change to them? No, STICK TO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. These are just my thoughts of what I feel makes a good structured shoe.
There are two types of people who wear these shoes: Neutral & Structure.
Neutral: This means they have a neutral pelvic alignment. Usually this is someone that is never injured and has a good hip extension. You can wear a neutral shoe because it's obvious you have good biomechanics.
Structure: These people who commonly complain of calf tightness and run bent over. They need heel support as this will in turn allow for a good hip extension/stride length.
To finish this piece, I can't stress enough the importance of pronation for your body and running technique. It’s a key component that all the good runners and athletes posses so don't be afraid of it. If you can teach someone to control their pronation, then they will be a far better athlete than someone who blocks their pronation with an orthotic.
Side note: If anyone is wondering what way your foot should strike the ground - heel/midfoot or toes, google Haile Gebrselassie slowmotion and that will show you what's the optimum.
In conclusion, people will run how their body lets them run so don't ask which shoe is better, ask why do you run the way you run?