Sunday, April 10, 2011

Shoe shopping! Why finding the right shoe is essential to avoiding injuries and enjoying running

Brand new Asics GT 2150, courtesy of my parents for my birthday. So crisp and white, they just scream "new shoes"! LOL...I'm almost paranoid that I need to get some dirt on that material so I don't look like I'm heading out for my first run ever! (Not that there's anything wrong with that).

I've been running in Asics 2150s since they were 2130s (just like razorblade companies, shoe companies aren't content to stay with just one model, and they're always pushing out the next best version). These are a great stability shoe for me, as I tend to pronate -- ie, land with my foot at an angle, which means that my foot ends up rolling inwards when it fully plants. Coupled with a pair of custom orthotics by Monique at Maritime Chiropractic & Bluenose Physiotherapy, these shoes have saved my knees/hips/joints.

I've known so many folks who say they don't run because it hurts their joints. I used to be one of them - I would get terrible shin splints running around the track at the YMCA, and even running a kilometre was unbearable.

Then I had my gait assessed by the team at the Running Room in North York. They analyze your gait (the way your foot lands -- whether it lands with your knee angled too much in one direction or the other) and make you run up and down the store a few times. This will help them assess whether you need shoes that give you added stability based on how your foot lands.

If you're thinking of starting running, I'd say just about the worst thing you can do is to head out in your old pair of everyday sneaks. You're more likely than not going to end up hurting yourself and then believing that there's something wrong with your joints and that running is painful for you. The best thing you can do is go to get your gait assessed by a professional, try out a few different pairs, and invest in a good pair of running shoes.

Once you do find the shoes that work for you, make sure you keep track of how many kilometres you put on them. I use the free tracking tool on the Running Room website (create your account and you can track distances as well as other training activities). Most shoes have an average lifespan of 600-800 kilometres. Anything over that, and the compacted cushioning in your shoe may lead to injuries.

Even seasoned runners who have switched to a new pair of shoes have ended up injuring themselves because the shoe didn't give them the right kind of support. Trust me. Your knees/hips/back will thank you for it!

It may sound like a scam for a shoe store to sell more shoes, but believe me -- I speak from experience. I love shoe shopping just as much as the next girl, but when it comes to running shoes, I'm not going to go experimenting with different types and styles and colours. Just give me the shoes that work for me, and I'm happy.


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