We all know the importance of wearing proper footwear when it comes to exercise. However, many of us neglect to give it proper consideration. There is a tendency to think that specialized shoes are limited exclusively to runners. But this isn’t necessarily the case. I recently had the opportunity to have a discussion with a local expert on the subject. Holly Finch, owner of The Pulse Running & Fitness Shop in Meridian. She has been an avid runner for 25 years including ultra distances (over 26.2 miles) and knows first hand how important the right shoe is. I was eager to pick her brain about the rational behind the shoe selection process and why it should be a higher priority not only for runners, but exercise enthusiasts as well. Here are the four most important things I learned from our conversation.
Injury Prevention: Of course this one should be a no brainer, particularly for runners. The repetitive stress that running places on our bodies can create all sorts of havoc and lead to multiple overuse injuries like; knee pain, shin splints, IT band syndrome, and stress fractures to name a few. Having the right shoe can maximize load absorption from the ground up and ensure that proper body alignment is maintained throughout the body when running or walking.
Get a Video Gait Analysis: This one really stuck with me. Most running places I’ve been to will watch your walking gait and start the selection process from there. But Holly makes a point of view both walking and running. Specifically, this because there is a remarkable difference between how a person walks in contrast to how they may run. As a result, every one of her customers goes through a video gait analysis on a treadmill in addition to the standard gait assessment. This applies to walkers too. Watching the playback in slow motion only adds more confidence to getting into the right shoe.
How long do shoes last? If you are using the shoe strictly for running or walking the life of the shoe is based on mileage. It is recommended that you should replace your shoes every 350-500 miles. However, if you are using the shoe more for cross training, strength training, etc. it’s measured more by wear and tear. Things to look for are visible signs of wearing on the bottom of the shoe, little to no cushion remaining when pressing on the middle of the forefoot, and if any types of overuse injuries begin to surface.
What if I’m not a runner? Getting into a durable shoe is still just as important. Whether you’re doing a bootcamp, speed and agility workouts, strength training, etc, finding a good quality neutral shoe will also serve to help keep you fit and minimize risk of injury as well.