I have often been asked what kind of shoes people should get. There are a few key factors to consider when looking for good training/running shoes.
A popular thought is that the latest fad is best. This fad is the ‘free’ style. A minimalist shoe that is stylish and flashy. But ask your body if it cares more about a shoe with style and flash, or a shoe that compliments your foots bio mechanics. There is no doubt that your feet would agree with me when I say that option number 2 is by far and away the better option. Here are a few thoughts on why I do not suggest such shoes.
a) These shoes can be wrung out like dish rags. So I take a shoe like this and in front of a client ‘wring it out’. Then I ask if their foot can do that same movement. They usually laugh and say “No”. My response is..”Then why do you think its ok for your shoe be able to?”
b) These shoes can be bent so that the toe and heel touch together. This usually happens because the arch part of the shoe is being bent back severely. Again I ask if this is something that the regular bio mechanics of the foot is capable of. Another “No” follows and most clients start to see my point.
Shoes are replaceable, feet not so much. So shouldn’t your shoes COMPLIMENT the way your body moves, your feet in particular? Now some people will say “Ya, but the Kenyans don’t have big clunky shoes, and they run fast/train hard.” This is true I will admit, but they also have several key advantages that let them do this.
First, they live in an area of the world that is generally warm. A place that does not have snow 6ish months of the year like most places here in Canada (especially in my home province of Manitoba!) is much better suited for less footwear since literally freezing toes off is not a real issue over there. When you need feet covered for most of the year, the few months of heat we get is not enough time for our feet to properly adapt to minimalist shoes, let alone bare feet before colder weather dictates heavier footwear be worn again.
Second, they do a lot of running/training on meadows. That’s right, soft, mossy/grassy meadows. This acts as natures shock absorber when they run, similar to our cushioning in regular running shoes (not like the super light, little to no cushioning ‘free’ style shoes). Whereas we who live in ‘concrete jungles’, aka cities, tend to not have that option so readily available. Most often we are forced to running on sidewalks, roadways, and other hardened surfaces, and we need some forgiveness and cushioning so our bones and muscles do not take the full force of our body literally pounding the pavement.
So if you live in an area of the world NOT covered in grasses and moss, and are in a climate that does not support the body’s adaptation of using bare feet year round, what are you to do? Get shoes that offer the correct support for YOU and the way your personal bio mechanics are situated. Find out first which of the 3 main types of shoe you need. The 3 main types are cushioning shoes, stability shoes, or motion control shoes. Within each of these are a range of options, depending on exactly how much support you need, how wide your feet are, and a host of other things as well. The last that the shoe is built on should also be taken into consideration. There are several main ones including straight, semi curved, and curved.
Drawing from personal experience as a coach of female high school and university athletes, I find myself saying “function over fashion” as a regular piece of advice when they say they need new shoes. Make sure the shoe fits the way your body moves and works, do not let the shoe dictate how your body moves. High heels are, in my opinion, the ultimate example of how footwear can destroy the body (Achilles and hips especially) simply by forgetting that the body was not built to move in that way.
My final thought is this, good shoes do NOT have to be crazy expensive. The shoe that cost the most is not nearly always the best option. However I must add that eventually the quality becomes quite poor if you spend very little. On average I would say that a good pair of running shoes is regular price about $100-150ish (this is based on my home- Winnipeg, Canada pricing). Less and you typically lose quality, more and you are often paying for a name or new style rather than actual features of the shoe. Of course, sales can reduce this..and we in Winnipeg like our sales! Send me a message, lets go shoe shopping!