What are the benefits of getting a good pair of running shoes?
“65% of the UK’s recreational sportsmen and women wear the wrong shoes for their chosen sport.”
Blisters, arch pain, ankle niggles, uncomfortable achilles, tight calf, knee pain, hip discomfort & lower back ache can all be signs that your shoes aren't doing what they should be doing for you.
Firstly, you want to select shoes that are appropriate for the activities you are taking part in. I often see people out running in football trainers and fashion shoes, these don't offer any support or cushioning and are not appropriate for running distances on hard surfaces. Running shoes have cushioned soles, designed to act as a shock absorber on impact to protect you on every stride. Depending on the distances you are doing and the protection needed, the level of cushioning in the shoe can vary.
Your gait is the manner in which your foot lands when walking and running. Depending on your gait, you need a shoe which offers the support your foot requires to keep your foot landing and pushing off as straight as possible, in turn taking the pressure off your ankles, knee's and hips. Shoes vary in the level of support from neutral, light structure, mild structure and high structure. A gait analysis will show which level of support is right for you.
The fit of the shoe is also important, it is not uncommon to go up a half or full size from your normal shoe size. This is because running shoes fit differently to other shoes. You want them to be snug across your foot, to grip the foot and allow you to benefit from the support the shoe offers. You also want a small gap at the front, normally 0.5-1cm. This allows for your feet expanding when exercising so your toes don't rub the front of the shoe, but also means that you will benefit full from the support and cushioning of the shoe, as it will be focused on the correct parts of your feet.
You may pay slightly more to get the right shoes, but in the long run it may be the best investment you make!