In fact over two-hundred running shoe brands are now available for consumers. Shoe categories have also expanded, and now include options such as minimalist, trail, maximum absorption, racing, high-mileage, moderate stability, mild stability, firm neutral, race trainers, and flexible neutral shoes. Such shoes are in addition to the every-day motion control shoe.
In addition to the confusion created by this extensive range of shoes and shoe categories, shoe companies produce an endless array of marketing. Such marketing typically states that the company’s new shoe ‘technology’ is the very thing that runners have been waiting for - suggesting that the runner can go further faster with fewer injuries.
The end result is that the running shoe consumer is left feeling confused. I observe this confusion on an almost daily basis. With so many options, all promising so much, running shoe consumers are left to wonder which shoe is best for them.
To the injured and non-injured runner, getting a health professional’s shoe recommendation is welcomed advice. However, not all runners will have access to a trusted source such as a health professional. The runner is normally at best reliant on the knowledge of the shoe salesperson. Any information and education about how to best navigate the footwear maze will assist in better running shoe selection.
KEY RUNNING SHOE CONCEPTS
Most injured runners that I consult ask me which running shoe I believe they should be running in. My response normally centres around several key concepts. These concepts are:
- Ensuring that the runner’s body is ‘run ready’ before tackling the crowded and often very confusing shoe market. By ‘run ready’ I mean that there are no weakness, stiffnesses, or tightness patterns in the runner’s body that are negatively affecting their ability to run fast and injury free.
- That there is not necessarily just one pair of shoes that is ‘right’ for the runner. Rather there will be several shoes (of differing brands) within the many running shoe ‘categories’ that will likely suit the runner. For example there may be 3 or 4 different shoes within the ‘neutral shoe’ category that would serve a runner well.
- What the runner’s body is doing is every bit as equal if not greater importance in seeing the runner enjoy injury free and fast running, as is their shoe selection. I often remind running clients of mine that ‘form' (running form or technique) must precede their ‘running shoes’. As a result I spend time working with each runner rehabilitating from injury analysing and correcting any running form deficits that the runner may have.
In my next post we will unpack six key considerations that need to be considered when making your next running shoe purchase.
Brad Beer (APAM)
Brad is an experienced and much sought after physiotherapist who owns and runs Pogo Physio on the Gold Coast, Queensland. Brad is also the author of Amazon's best selling ‘You Can Run Pain Free: A Physio’s 5 Step Guide to Enjoying Injury Free and Faster Running’ and regularly contributes to the media (4CRB and Juice 107.3FM Radio, Gold Coast Bulletin, Run for Your Life Magazine).