Viewing entries tagged
feet

How to Pick The Right Shoe for Working Out

Comment

How to Pick The Right Shoe for Working Out

A question that I’ve gotten from athletes over the years is "What type of shoe should I purchase for running or for working out?" First off, I want to make it abundantly clear that I am by no means a podiatrist. However, I do have experience assessing people’s musculoskeletal imbalances, and I can prescribe corrective exercises to address these issues.

I’ll start with the most common dysfunctions that could improve by having the proper footwear. It's relatively common to have mobility limitations and insufficient movement patterns at the ankle joint. One of the more common issues I see is excessive foot pronation (feet collapsing inward) (as seen in the photo below) and lack of dorsiflexion (inability to flex the ankle).

People with flat feet or low arches will usually pronate their feet, causing them to put a majority of their weight into their arch. This can create a chain reaction of unwanted stresses up the body - up the “chain”. However, the reverse is also true, which means that if your hips are not stable and aligned, they’ll cause issues down the chain, and your knees and feet will begin to compensate as a result. Here’s a perfect example: as a result of the feet collapsing inwards, the knees will also collapse inwards. This can cause various knee issues, knee pain, and can make it more difficult to externally rotate the hips. The muscle that’s responsible for externally rotating our hips is our glutes/butt. If our butt isn’t in the game when we do lower body movements, then we’re in danger of not just having a flabby butt, but also potentially suffering from overuse injuries due to compensatory patterns.

Lack of dorsiflexion, or the lack of flexing at the ankles, is usually attributed to tight calf muscles - gastrocnemius and soleus being the biggest culprits. This issue is also usually coupled with the feet everting, or turning out, as a compensation for not being able to flex at the ankles.  Dorsiflexion allows for more freedom up the chain to flex the knee and hip during lower body movements such as squats and lunges. Besides exercises to help improve these two common mobility issues (I could write an entire blog post about these exercises), the right shoe can help solve this. That’s what we’re here for, right?! We went to our neighborhood shoe store, BAIT in the Mission to show you some examples of what to look for in a shoe.

FOR THE RUNNERS

First off, let’s start with those of you who run. I suggest getting a gait analysis at a local running shoe store like A Runner's Mind or Fleet Feet. You could also ask one of our P4L coaches to assess your overhead squat and single leg squat. From there, they’ll be able to give you feedback on the type of shoes that you may benefit from, depending on your musculoskeletal imbalances. One recommendation I could give without any assessment is this: if you’ve got flat feet, or if you put weight into your arches, get shoes that give you arch support. Make sure to do some research online beforehand to ensure that you’re getting the shoe that’s best for you.

 
This shoe is ideal for running, because it is a lightweight shoe. The difference between this and a cross-training shoe is that there's no lateral support, meaning there's minimal traction at the sole. I personally like a minimalist shoe, because it strengthens your feet while running and feels closest to a bare foot.

This shoe is ideal for running, because it is a lightweight shoe. The difference between this and a cross-training shoe is that there's no lateral support, meaning there's minimal traction at the sole. I personally like a minimalist shoe, because it strengthens your feet while running and feels closest to a bare foot.

 

FOR THE STRENGTH TRAINERS / CROSS-TRAINERS

For those of you do a variety of activities, and especially if you strength train, then please do yourself a favor and get cross-training shoes. I’ve seen countless people over the years strength train or do functional fitness classes in running shoes. Two reasons why this is not a good idea:

  1. Running shoes don’t have ankle support, so when performing lateral movements, you’re going to be more vulnerable to ankle sprains.
  2. Running shoes don’t provide as much heel elevation or do as good of a job at preventing pronation as much as cross trainers do. Cross trainers will lock your foot in place and assist in ankle flexion - however, that’s not the best reason to get cross trainers.
 
This shoe gives you more ankle support than a running shoe. The elevated heel makes it easier to flex in the ankle, thus helping you squat easier. You'll have increased stability. In addition, it has heel support and traction so that you can do lateral movements.

This shoe gives you more ankle support than a running shoe. The elevated heel makes it easier to flex in the ankle, thus helping you squat easier. You'll have increased stability. In addition, it has heel support and traction so that you can do lateral movements.

 

I will say that I do prefer a minimalist shoe, or even working out barefoot if you’re solely strength training; the reason being that you have more feedback and contact with the ground, thus giving you more natural ability to move your foot freely and to generate force into the ground with your entire foot.

Thanks for listening and I hope this helps!

Author Footer - Bryant.jpg

Comment

Heels or Toes? Foot Placement While Running Explained

Comment

Heels or Toes? Foot Placement While Running Explained

Foot placement while running is an age old debate that many regular runners are familiar with. What’s wrong with running on your heels? “Landing on your heels is horrible for your knees and back!” Well what about forefoot striking? “What a great way to give yourself tight calves and plantar fasciitis”. If that’s true, then obviously landing on the midfoot is the way to go. Like Goldilocks would say, “Not too hot, not too cold. Right in the middle is just right”. The truth is, none of them are necessarily right or wrong.

How the foot strikes the ground has more to do with a runner’s speed, footwear, and the running surface itself.

However, there is a best way to orient yourself so that your feet land properly when running in various conditions.

According to physical therapist, Jay Dicharry, who is internationally renown in running gait analysis, placing the foot as close to your body is much more important in the grand scheme of the entire gait cycle than where on the foot you land. Just because you heel-strike, doesn’t mean you’re over-striding because there are plenty of forefoot strikers who over-stride as well. There are pros and cons to heel, forefoot, and midfoot striking, and which one is more optimal has more to do with the individuality of the athlete, speed, footwear, and the quality of the surface you are running on. 

Steve Magness, Head Cross Country coach at the University of Houston, former Olympic coach, and author of the book, The Science of Running, says that “ideal landing is close to the center of your body and directly underneath the knee”.

If you follow the above advice, your foot should naturally land the way it’s supposed to based on your speed and characteristics of the surface you are running on. When running at faster speeds, like when sprinting, your foot should naturally land more on the forefoot, whereas when running at a slower pace, like when jogging, your foot will probably land more on the midfoot or even on the heel. However, no matter the speed, you should always try to place your foot as close to beneath your hip as possible and then focus on driving your foot down and back to propel yourself forward.

---

References:

  1. http://running.competitor.com/2014/03/injury-prevention/footstrike-101-how-should-your-foot-hit-the-ground_63548
  2. http://www.scienceofrunning.com/2010/08/how-to-run-running-with-proper.html
  3. http://www.somastruct.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Footstrike11.jpg

 

Learn more about Coach Randall here

Comment