No matter if you are training for your next marathon or just trying to improve your park run, one of your most important considerations should be what trainers you are wearing.
Over the last 10 years the trainer market has been flooded with high end casual sneakers designed to look good at the coffee shop, but the problem is that these shoes then often get worn to go for runs and to train in; not all shoes are made equal!
What am I talking about?
Well, the first step is to check your old trainers to see if they fall under the above category of elite casual sneakers.
Are they super light? Overly flexible? Can they be bent in half and twisted? If they can, all of that motion is having to be absorbed by your foot and ankle when you run or train, instead of being absorbed by your shoe making your running very inefficient.
Why is this the case?
To explain, let me use a horrible analogy! If I had to open a locked door, I would probably choose a crowbar over a floppy pool noodle (you know the ones), but why is this?
The reason is that the crowbar is rigid and has a much higher and efficient transfer of energy from where you pull on the bar to where the force is exerted to the door hinge. Taking this back to shoes, if your shoes are a bit more rigid your toe off and propulsion phase of your running is much more efficient, and your energy transfer from heel strike to toe off is better, meaning your muscles work less for more.
This should be an important consideration in injury prevention and load management protocols for almost all lower limb running injuries.
When I recommend trainers for clients, I will often recommend a 3-point checklist to make sure they are most likely adequate for your intended activity (in this scenario running):
- Does the shoe resist the “bend test” – can you hold your shoe in two hands and fold it on itself? Immediate no if it can, save it for the coffee shop.
- Does the shoe have some twist resistance? – can it be twisted easily through the middle portion of the foot? Again, if it can, save it for the coffee shop.
- Can you pinch the back heel together and have it touch itself? You guessed it, coffee shop!
In summary you want your training shoes to have some rigidity to it through the sole and the heel counter to get the crowbar efficiency with each stride you take. This will help to improve your runs and help avoid overload injuries.