Choosing the right pair of footwear for your track event can make the difference between performing at your optimal level or suffering an injury (photo credit: John Yeong/SportSG).
Footwear for sprinting, middle distance, and jumping
Are you an athlete taking part in track and field events? Well, you definitely need the right pair of shoes. The right pair will increase running efficiency and lessen the chance of injury. The next question is – what do you need to look out for before you buy them?
You can either go for a pair with sprint spikes, or racing flats. The former have ceramic, plastic or metal spikes that are screwed into the underside of the forefoot. They give you additional grip and traction, allows you to transfer your force in a more forwards direction with each step.
Sprint spike shoes have an additional design feature. As you sprint, you will push on the ball of the feet. The shoes will be reinforced with either stiff plastic or a hard rubber plate under the forefoot that help with this type of foot motion. The rest of the shoes are usually made with lighter materials.
The other choice is a pair of racing flats. A racing flat is made from super lightweight materials that form the upper part of the shoe. The bottom, however, offers more cushioning and padding. Racing flats are ideal for people who find sprinting spikes too painful and uncomfortable.
Middle Distance Running Shoes (800m – 3000m)
Middle distance running shoes are very similar to sprinting spikes. However, they offer additional padding at the heel, and are made from more flexible materials than the sprinting versions. You need these features to support your running gait.
If you are a jumper, your needs are radically different. When you jump, the force acting on your body can range from 8-10 times your body weight. Therefore, any shoe that you choose needs to have good cushioning and support for the ankles.
However, it also depends on which jumping event you participate. For example, in the high jump, you need a light, flexible shoe that aids the sprint. The sole of the shoe should offer extra traction to help give you that additional boost.
For the long jump or triple jump, shoes must be lightweight, as well. Due to the nature of the event, as your foot hits the ground, your the heel will be ahead of the body, and there is a chance that your foot may slip forward at take off. Therefore, good long jump shoes need to have proper grips on the outer edge of the sole to compensate for this.
Another thing to look for is good stiff heel support. When you jump, there is an increased potential for your heel to go beyond the shoe’s normal support of the sole. This can result in painful bone bruises. Therefore, good long jump shoes should come with strong heel support for padding, to minimize the pronation of the foot, and reduce injuries.
But first, you have to know your feet and gait. Speak to a doctor and find out whether you pronate excessively, supinate, or whether you have flat feet. You need to take all these factors into account before you make your purchase.
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