In this video, your marathon team physio, Lucy Macdonald, answers all your running shoe related questions. She covers what running shoes you should buy, when you should change your running shoes and how many pairs of running shoes you will need for your marathon. She also discusses barefoot shoes, anti-pronation shoes and stability shoes.
Hi. I’m Lucy Macdonald, physiotherapist, and today I’m going to talk to you about running shoes. So how do you know what type of shoe is going to work for you, how do you know when you’re supposed to change your shoes, how many pairs should you have throughout your marathon training. All these really important questions that I’m asked all the time.
So, first things first, what type of shoe. Now, for the vast majority of runners a neutral shoe is going to be what you need. This is a neutral shoe. There are many, many different brands on the market, you don’t have to go for the most expensive one. A decent running brand is advisable, but not entirely essential, and you can get some good bargains and things online. However, you absolutely should be trying on shoes before you purchase them.
So, the most important thing, this is the first thing, about a running shoe is that it should be comfortable. It sounds really obvious but we can get really het up with all the different biomechanical things about running shoes, but ultimately the shoe needs to be comfortable. And that’s because if you’ve got a really comfortable shoe, you’re more likely to get feedback from your foot, a connection between your foot and brain, something called recall proprioception which is your body’s positional sense. It is one of the biggest indicators for injury. So, if you’ve got lovely comfortable shoes that fit you really well, then that’s going to help your proprioception, and therefore reduce your chances of injury.
So, as I say most people suit a neutral running shoe, not an anti-pronation shoe, or the other end of the spectrum, a shoe with zero support, like barefoot running shoes. For some people those shoes are appropriate, for example if you’re a bigger, heavier runner and you do have excessive overpronation, then an anti-pronation shoe is for you. But they are vastly overprescribed so if you have been told you need an anti-pronation shoe can you get in touch with me and I’ll just check a few things with you first.
The other end of the spectrum is a shoe with no support, which is like a barefoot running shoe. If you’re already running in barefoot running shoes and you’re finding them really comfortable then that’s fantastic news. Generally, they’re better for higher level runners, so again if you’re thinking of transitioning into those shoes then please get in touch with me before you do. As I say with transitions the key is to slowly reduce the amount of support that your shoes been providing, not suddenly going from a neutral running shoe straight into barefoot running. That does work for some people, some people in those situations write books and go crazy on social media but for a lot of people that can actually cause injury so just be a little bit careful if you’re thinking of doing that.
Right, so, back to your nice neutral shoe. Doesn’t need to be this particular brand as I say. What you’re going to look at is a few of the key components of a decent running shoe. You’ll notice that they all have a bit of a heel raise, and that’s very helpful to aid your running biomechanics. Also, they have more support in the middle of the foot than they do at the front. You can see that it kind of ramps down to where your big toe is. What that means is that when you put pressure through the back and front of the shoe it should bend over your big toe joint. That is the sign of a nice healthy shoe. If you want to work out whether you need to change your shoes or not, that is a really nice test, presuming that they’re not stability or anti-pronation shoes. For a neutral shoe that is a really nice test. It should flex right over your big toe, and then if I continue to push, it will flex further up the foot as well.
So, you will find that, on average, you will need at least two pairs of running trainers and it is really good to try and get your two pairs of running trainers right at the beginning of your training so that then you alternate your shoes throughout training. You certainly don’t want to be waiting until two weeks before the marathon and then getting a new pair of shoes for the obvious fact that when you have a new pair of shoes, you’re more predisposed to blisters and things like that. So, two pairs of shoes throughout the whole marathon at least. If you’re doing a lot of training in mud, water and particularly if you’re training by the sea, so if your shoes are exposed to saltwater then you’re really going to need more pairs than that.
I hope that is helpful. By all means do get in touch if you would like further information. The best way to contact me is by email firstname.lastname@example.org or securely email@example.com. You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. I would love to hear what you’d like me to talk about next, so please do get in touch. In the meantime, happy running!