Friday, June 7, 2013

Running shoes: Myths Debunked! PART 1

Buying running shoes should be the simplest task in running. But the fact of the matter is that it is one of the most challenging aspects of running for most runners. There are so many options and with so many terms like "gait analysis," "barefoot minimalism," "structured support," and  "ultra-lightweight" being thrown around theses days, finding the right shoes for you can be a bit of an adventure.

Also getting in the way of selecting the right shoe for you are an exorbitant number of myths surrounding running shoes. Many of these myths may have had basis 20-30 years ago, but today they are just that- myths- not grounded in reality, which somehow have managed to endure.

The separation of fact from fiction is an always challenging battle due to the grounded and ingrained misinformation that has based itself within the running community. Such things do nothing but complicate the matter of selecting new running shoes.

Here are but a few of the most common myths surrounding running shoes:

Myth #1: There is a best shoe for every runner.
BUSTED: There simply isn't. Perhaps you've found a specific shoe model that you deem to be the best or you've found a brand that you can reliably turn to when looking for your next pair if your model has mysteriously been discontinued or the update wasn't quite what you were looking for. But there is simply no one running shoe that is the "best" shoe. Running shoes do not deal in absolutes, there is no one shoe or brand that is the be-all and end-all of running shoes that works for every runner. And the reason why there isn't an absolute best is because we are all different. We all have individual biomechanics which dictate how our bodies move, how our feet fall and ultimately, what type of shoe will work for us. The greatest running shoe on the planet won’t work for everyone and the worst running shoe will work for some runners. Don’t worry about what someone else says or recommends; get the best shoe for you. Spend the time to try the shoes on, make sure its the right one for you.
Don't worry, we've got you covered
Myth #2: All running shoes are basically the same
BUSTED: Not true at all. It is a known fact that each company has their own patented special shoe technology, be it their type of cushioning or gel supports or some type of carbon-fiber speed plate, but further than that, each shoe simply fits differently. Each shoe company has their own unique foot mold that they deem is the right one and that is the one they are going to use. Different shoe are going to fit differently. What one brand may deem to be a size 8 may in fact be more like a size 8.5 in another brand  or a 7.5 in an other. That’s why a shoe or a specific brand your running partner swears by might not work for you because it may not fit you as well as your friend. Fit is absolutely the most critical factor when selecting your next pair of running shoes. The fit characteristics every runner should seek in every pair of shoes is a snug heel without any slippage, enough space for the ball of the foot and wiggle room for the toes. Comfort and fit are the two greatest factors in reducing risk of injury. Never compromise on fit.

Myth #3: The shoes make the runner
BUSTED: This one may seem a little self-evident but the fact is, some people still think that by simply having the most expensive or flashy-looking shoes, they will instantly be a better runner. The key great running isn't shoes. Shoes are necessary tools but they are not what makes you the runner. The training, the dedication, the commitment and the sheer will to be better are what make you a better runner. Shoes can help you along the way by adding protection and stability for those who need it, but the key to great running is staying health and being consistent. In other words, great running is being able to run everyday. Shoes certainly help, and are usually required, but they do not make you a better runner.

Myth #4: I’ve heard the wet test (i.e., placing a wet foot on a dry surface) is the best way to determine my foot type and the type of shoe I should wear.
BUSTED: You heard wrong. A simple tracing of your foot and/or the wet test is not an accurate predictor of your foot function. Only severe overpronators (with a full, flat arch) or extreme underpronators (with a high arch) have definitive foot shapes. For anyone else, the wet test is pretty useless. There have been no studies or scientific literature that have ever suggested that foot shape accurately indicates what kind of shoe is the best for you. In fact, three recent studies conducted by the military showed consecutively that wet test/foot shape test and assigning shoe type based on that had the slightest impact of injury rates.

Myth #5: My shoes wear out first on the outside of the outsole which I know means I’m a supinator, right?
BUSTED: If you are a TRUE supinator, the actual supination movement happens well after you land. Wear on the outside of the heel is the most common wear pattern within the running population because 75-80%. The simplest explanation for this is because most runners land with their heel and strike with their outside of their heel first. Which is precisely the point where most of the wear pattern occurs. But that is all it means.

Myth #6: I know I need to buy a good shoe, but a $50 shoe is just as good as shoes costing $100 or more. 
BUSTED: Not in a million years. Different models have different materials and technologies, and they are going to fit differently. Running shoes are very different from each other because of each brand's individual foot mold, the technology they have at their disposal, and their own personal design choices. Buying a $50 department store athletic shoe may seem like an economic choice, but realistically you bought something that is going to wear out faster and it isn't made for running. You have different shoes for different sports because they are the proper tools to help you be the better athlete (in our case, the better runner). Even if the shoe is supposed to be purposed as a running shoe, the sweet spot in running shoes (between $125-$160) offer the best shoes in terms of cushioning, support, fit and durability.

If you have questions that you want to ask please do so in the comments or if you want to chat further shoot me an e-mail! I'd love to hear from you.

And as always, check out Runner's Mark 


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