Your feet: the anatomical basisFoot shape is an anatomical reality, around which you will inevitably have to orientate you choice of running shoe. Knowing about your foot shape and the consequent rolling is crucial when buying a pair of running shoes.
- Hindfoot: The heel bone can tilt inwards or outwards, where a pronation or overpronation (supination), respectively, can occur.
- Midfoot: The curvature of the midfoot determines how much contact your foot/shoe gets with the floor.
- Forefoot: The bigger the foot, the wider it gets. That has an effect on running style (more on that later).
The different styles of runningJust like foot shape, running style naturally has a massive impact on choosing a suitable running shoe. There’s usually a distinction between forefoot, midfoot and backfoot running.
Backfoot runningBackfoot running is based on the walking motion and is relatively easy to adopt. This technique is particularly good for beginners. However, all runners should be aware of the disadvantages:
- Not suitable for quick runs, as the foot touches the ground well behind the body‘s centre of gravity and therefore slows down
- High shock load on each step
- High eccentric load on the shin muscles, which can lead to shin splints
- Stronger knee flexion for shock absorption, which can lead to a “runner’s knee”
- Loss of tension in the Achilles heel and calf, which can lead to an inflamation of the Achilles
Midfoot runningMidfoot running can fully utilise bodily cushioning systems and equally distribute pressure. Since the foot strikes the floor not far from the centre of gravity, the slowing effect is much less than with backfoot running. However, this movement has to be learned from new in most cases.
Forefoot runningForefoot running is definitely the quickest, as the foot hits the floor below the centre of gravity and a retraction movement of the lower leg (especially over short distances) is possible for an active run. At the same time, overpronation is prevented with this kind of running thanks to the pretension of muscles on landing. Examples of disadvantages are:
- Higher pressure on the forefoot, sole, calf muscles and Achilles heel (likewise increasing the risk of inflammation)
- Running on your tiptoes can lead to heel spurs
The heel-to-toe dropOne feature of running shoes that can be a problem is the heel-to-toe drop. The heel-to-toe drop is the difference in the thickness of the sole between the forefoot and the heel. The bigger it is, the higher the heel. Asics defines the effects as: “A low heel-to-toe drop only encourages a faster motion at high speeds, for example during interval training or competitions. On the other hand, the movement amplitude is magnified in the area of calf muscles/Achilles heel. This makes a dynamic step possible and leads to faster speeds.” Additional (technical and technological) selection criteria for running shoes are cushioning and support.
The necessary supportEvery running style is unique, which also goes for the phase of ground contact too. Shoe support targets this specific moment with its mix of material and technology and is dependent on a few factors:
- Length/Distance: You need greater support on longer runs, because muscles lose power after a certain amount of time.
- Body weight: In general, the heavier a runner is, the greater their shoe support should be.
- Pronation: A pronounced pronation can be regulated by a higher level of support.
Adequate cushioning of running shoesThe mechanics of the cushioning is similar to a spring. It converts the impact energy into heat and therefore reduces the forces acting on your body. And that can be (depending on body weight, speed and route length (i.e. time)) two or three times your own body weight! The cushioning therefore provides not only comfort, but also protects our joints. In this case the sole material also has an influence, since the more resilient it is, the greater the spring effect is. A prime example for cushioned shoes is the Adidas Boost. [gallery type="square" ids="10192,10179"] Apart from that, the type of cushioning is dependent on the type of running you do (and also definitely on the surface, more on that later):
- Fast runs: lightweight cushioning
- Effective “running to the limit”: moderate cushioning
- Long and steady runs: extensive cushioning
- For a particularly soft feeling: maximum cushioning
- Track running: Shoes targeted specifically for synthetic grounds
- Road: Shoes which guarantee reliable safety on hard ground
- Uneven ground: Shoes with good traction
- Trail running: Non-slip shoes (even on damp ground)