By Laura Chan
The best pair of running shoes are the ones most well bio-mechanically suited to you. Having a suitable pair of running shoes prevents injuries, makes you feel more comfortable throughout your run and may even improve your overall performance.
Since running is a simple sport with a low cost of equipment involved, do not skimp on the one good piece of equipment that you do need - invest in a good pair of running shoes.
1. Know your feet
Knowing your arch type will help you find a pair of running shoes suitable for your feet. The various arch types are: high-arch, low-arch, neutral feet and flat feet.
Most staff at a sports store should be able to conduct a simple foot analysis to identify your arch type. It is not difficult to do so - simply observe the depth of the curve of your foot from your heel to the toe.
If there is no curve and it is completely flat on the ground, you are most likely to be an overpronator, otherwise commonly known as being flat-footed.
As for the high-arched, their feet will underpronate causing the arch to roll outwards when running and sometimes even when walking. Individuals with these two arch types may face greater challenges in running.
Nevertheless, don’t let it deter you from running as there are shoes designed to help you overcome these challenges. This is why it is crucial to obtain a pair of running shoes that suits your feet type well.
2. Know the different types of shoes
In the process of shopping for running shoes, it is always tempting to pick out the one with the most aesthetically appealing design. However, in the case of selecting running shoes, the first step should be looking for shoes suitable for your arch types and then selecting the designs under its category.
For neutral and high-arch feet, look for shoes labelled “cushioning” because these shoes are customised in a way that provide greater flexibility and its soft midsoles will help absorb the shocks in a run.
Individuals with low-arched feet should look for shoes labelled “stability” because these shoes have harder midsoles that prevent your arch from collapsing and rolling inwards. For flat-footers, look for shoes labelled “motion control” as it will help maintain your stability during the run.
It is advisable for individuals with flat feet to seek an orthopaedic advice. Orthotics or customised shoe inserts may be added into your shoes in place of normal insoles.
3. Know what to look for when trying them out
Before you purchase your running shoes, it is essential to try them on. Besides ensuring the size fits lengthwise, the width is also a consideration factor. Most sport stores provide shoes with varying widths like B, D, 2E or 4E. Trying out the shoes ensures that the shoes fits comfortably on the arch and on both sides of the feet as there are cases whereby runners have special foot shapes and need to get customised shoes.
One way is to examine the wear patterns on your old shoes or if you realise you frequently get bruises or aches in a particular spot. Shoes should be properly fitted to prevent discomfort, ingrown toenails and muscle imbalance which may be potential causes of injuries.
A good neutral pronation is when a shoe allows not too much yet too little movement and most importantly, gives you comfort.
4. The difference between running and walking shoes
Walking shoes should not be used for running because the shoe is designed for less strenuous movements. It is harder, more rigid and does not wrap the feet as much as running shoes.
Trail shoes have a firmer support and more rugged soles for better traction and stability on undulating terrain. These shoes also provide greater ankle support and prevent dirt and gravel from entering easily. This is why you should try to purchase special trail running shoes if you're going to be running often on trails like Bukit Timah or MacRitchie.
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