Pounding the Pavement: What Runners Need to Know About Footwear

If you regularly engage in running to reap the healthy benefits of a cardio workout, you need to be mindful of keeping your feet in good shape too. Gearing yourself up with the proper footwear is the essential key to protecting your feet, and it can improve your performance as well. Find out what running can do to your feet and how to select the right shoe for this popular exercise.

Anatomy and Biomechanics

Each foot is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, 19 muscles and 107 ligaments in addition to tendons. When you run, these structures all work together to enable your feet to adjust to varying terrain surfaces, to launch your body toward forward movement and to absorb the impact of your weight when they make contact with the ground. The efficiency at which your feet can act as shock absorbers depends on the form of their arches. Feet are typically classified into three types, which are based on the following arch presentations:

  • Normal arches allow for normal pronation. Once the foot strikes the ground, it naturally rolls inward just enough to make complete contact. This also enables the entire front portion of the foot to push off for the next stride.
  • Low arches, also known as flat feet, result in overpronation. When the foot strikes the ground, it rolls too far inward. The shock of impact is not fully absorbed and the weight of the body is not stabilized as fully. The workload of pushing off for the next stride falls primarily on the big and second toes.
  • High arches lead to underpronation, in which the landed foot does not roll inward enough. The outer portion of the foot takes most of the brunt of impact, and the smaller outer toes are forced to carry out the push-off task for the next stride taken.

Your running feet also present one of three different foot strikes, depending on whether your heel, midfoot or toes make the initial contact with the ground. Put all of the anatomical structures and the details of running biomechanics together, and you have a lot of potential for running injuries.

Common Runners' Foot Injuries

Whether you are new to the running scene or a seasoned marathon participant, foot injuries can strike if you do not protect your feet with the right shoes. Some common foot and lower leg injuries that affect runners include the following:

  • Plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament that runs along the bottom of each of your feet
  • Shin splints, which is also known as medial tibial stress syndrome
  • Stress fractures, which are bruises and small cracks that can occur in the bones of the feet and ankles
  • Morton's neuroma, which is a benign growth of nerve tissue from the digital nerve in the foot
  • Achilles tendinitis, which is painful inflammation of the Achilles tendon

You can reduce your risk of painful injuries and getting sidelined from your workout by donning the right shoes for your chosen physical activity of running.

Choosing the Right Shoe for You

Your podiatrist can measure your foot to tell you the correct size to seek out when go shopping. Always try on your sneaker choices in the store before you make your final selection. Start with multiple choices, and walk around the store in each pair to compare them against one another. Practice the following tips when shopping for running shoes:

  • If you have a retailer in your area that specializes in running equipment, opt to shop there instead of generalized retailers, and accept the assistance of staff that is knowledgeable about the needs of runners and the differences in running shoes. 
  • Choose sneakers that are specifically classified as running shoes, which means that they are designed to absorb high-impact and facilitate forward movement.
  • Select shoes that are designed for your foot's arch type.
  • As you walk around the store, pay close attention to the level of shock absorption and stability that each shoe provides. Eliminate those that do not provide the greatest stability and superior cushioning against impact.
  • Purchase some padded running socks to wear with your sneakers to provide moisture control and reduce blisters.

It is important to remember that whether you are hitting the track, shore or woodland trail, sneakers sustain wear, which can occur rapidly if you engage in running several days each week. As they wear, their levels of stability and shock absorption will start to diminish. The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine recommends replacing your running shoes once they have pounded the pavement for 300 to 500 miles.

Running can be a desirable choice when it comes to performing a cardio workout. Running outdoors offers the opportunity to breathe fresh air and absorb some vitamin D from natural sunlight, and the activity gets the heart pumping and the blood flowing throughout your body, including your legs and feet. Keep the routine healthy and reduce your risk for injury by assuming an ideal running form, and make wearing the proper running shoes even more important that remembering to download that new running playlist into your phone. 

To learn more about your options, contact services like Laurel Podiatry Associates, LLC.