Shin splints running shoe advice



Running shoes are the most important piece of equipment that a runners has. They help prevent injury and they may help the running gait be more efficient. The running shoe market is huge and most of the running shoe companies make significant investment into the technology and science of running shoes. The anatomy of a running shoe: Running shoes have become more complicated over the years, but still consist of some basic components:

The outsole:

This is the treaded layer on the undersurface of the shoe, usually made from carbon rubber or similar material. It resists wears and provides traction. It may also have a studded or waffle design to enhance traction on softer surfaces.

The midsole:

This is considered the most important part of running shoes as it is the cushioning and stability layer between the upper and the outsole. The most common materials for the midsole of running shoes is ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), polyurethane (PU) or a combination of the two. Often there is a dual-density midsole that has a firmer material on the inner side (medial side) to help limit pronation (rolling in) of the foot. A lot of proprietary technologies developed by different manufacturers go into the midsoles of running shoes (eg air, gel and high-tech plastics materials).

The upper:

This is the part of the shoe that wraps around and over the top of the foot. It may be made of leather or a synthetic material that is lighter and breathable (to reduce heat from inside the running shoe). The tongue of the upper should be padded to cushion the top of the foot against the pressure from the laces. Often, at the back of the running shoe, the upper is padded to prevent rubbing and irritation against the achilles tendon.

The heel counter:

This is a firm and inflexible cup which is built into the upper of running shoes and surrounds the heel. It is usually very firm so that it can control motion of the rearfoot.

Post or footbridge:

This is the firm material in the midsole which increases stability along the inner side (arch side; medial side) of the running shoe. How to choose running shoes:

All the runners need the best protection that running shoes can provide - the running shoe needs to absorb shock, control motion, be flexible and be durable. Because of the complexity of individual foot biomechanics and the complexity of running shoes on the market, it is usually a good idea to go to a specialty running shoe store as they will have the expertise to help you find the best running shoe for your individual needs.


Buying running shoes


1. Sport Specific Shoe. Plan to select a shoe specific for the sport in which you will participate. A rule that says if you participate in a sport more than 3 hours per week use a sport specific shoe makes no sense. Do you want to play soccer in tennis shoes? Do you want to jog in football boots? Of course not. Get a sports specific shoe for each sport you participate in.

2. Specialty Sports shoe shop. It is best to use a shop that specialises in athletic shoes and has a good reputation in your community. If you are a runner, make certain to ask local runners clubs and runners that you know where they recommend you purchase your shoes. You might also call the office of a local sports podiatrist for suggestions.

3. Bring Useful information to the store. What injuries have you had in the past and what if anything is your current problem? Bring your old shoes in to the store. Which shoes have been successfully used in the past and which ones caused problems? What is your general foot type and foot shape? How have previous shoe models worn?

4. Have Your Feet Measured Each Time You Purchase Shoes. As you age, you'll find that your foot size may gradually change also. Each manufacturer often changes how their shoes are made and the last that the shoe is made will vary from one manufacturer to another. The measurements should include sitting, standing and heel to toe, heel to ball and width.

5. Wear Socks You Plan To Use And Don't Forget Your Orthotics. If you wear an insert, an orthotic or an orthotic with a flat insert underneath it, bring these along to the shoe shop And be sure to wear the same type of sock when you are fitted for your shoe as you will wear when participating in your sport.

6. You need a fingers width between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. The shoe should be fit with your index fingers width between the longest toe and the end of the shoe. The toe box should have adequate room for your toes. The shoe should bend at the ball of your foot where your toes actually bend. If the heel to ball fit is off, then the break of the shoe will not match your foot and abnormal forces will develop in your foot and in the shoe. The heel should be stable and not move in and out of the shoe. Wear the shoe for at least 10 minutes in the store, and if allowed do a brief short jog outside of the store to see how it feels.

7. Check the shoe for defects. Examine the exterior of the shoe for tears, substandard stitching and other blemishes and defects. Place the shoes on a level counter and make sure the shoes line up evenly, stable, that the heel is straight, and there are no obvious manufacturing problems.

8. Check the wear of your shoes regularly. Make sure you examine and replace your shoes regularly. Most running shoes last for between 350 miles and 500 miles of running. Checking and changing your shoes is one of the best ways to avoid the doctor's office. With a careful training schedule that avoids over training and doing too much, too soon, too quickly and too often, you can reduce your risk of energy markedly. Be sure to check all aspects of your shoe for wear. Make sure the outsole is not worn through. Make sure that the heel counter is not tilted in or out. Check for holes worn by the pressure of your toes.

9. Don't wear a new shoe in a race. When you go off to run a marathon, bring your old friends along. Wear shoes and socks that you've broken in thoroughly.

10. Select appropriate socks. Cotton socks are available everywhere, but are not often appropriate for your sports activity. The best sock is often one made of synthetic fibres that wick moisture away from your feet.

11. Buy a neutral shoe. This is important as buying trainers with control will ruin the effect of any orthotics worn.


Running shoes - Frequently asked questions


How do I know if a shoe fits correctly?

You want to focus on three areas when fitting a shoe: the heel, the mid-foot, and the toe.

Your heel should stay seated in the shoe when running and/or walking. Certain lacing patterns can help hold the heel in better if the shoe fits well otherwise.

The length of the shoe and the amount of toe room you need are somewhat dependent on your mileage. In general, the more miles you run, the bigger you want your shoes to fit, because your feet swell on longer runs. Marathoners need approximately a thumb-width of space between the end of the toe and the end of the shoe. Runners who rarely run more than 5 miles can do well with half that amount. If you've ever had black toenails or blisters on the ends of your toes, your shoes are too short.

Mid-foot fit is the most important. The shoe should be snug without creating pressure points. If the arch of the shoe doesn't feel like it matches up with your arch, you probably won't like the shoe. Shoes that are too wide here will result in side-to-side slipping, and will cause blisters in the arch area. If you have to pull the laces extremely tight to get the shoe to fit, it's too wide.

As for the "feel" of a running shoe, we all have our personal preferences. Some of us like a softer ride, while others prefer more of a firm, responsive feel to their running shoe. As long as you are selecting a shoe that is appropriate for your foot-type, trust your instincts about the feel that you prefer.

How long do running shoes last?

The life of a running shoe is approximately 400 to 500 miles. Lighter, softer shoes tend to wear out faster while more stable shoes last longer. Bigger runners and runners who train primarily on concrete wear out shoes faster. Lighter runner and those who train on soft surfaces will get more miles out of their shoes. There is no single reliable indicator of when a shoe is no longer providing adequate support. However, the forefoot cushioning tends to go first, so if it feels flat and you're in the 400 to 500 mile range, you're probably read for a new shoe.

What kind of socks should I wear?

Wear whatever is comfortable to you but in general stay away from cotton socks. Cotton absorbs moisture and keeps it next to the skin. Moist skin is more vulnerable to friction blisters. Synthetics like Cool-max are better at removing moisture and keeping the skin dry and more comfortable. As for the thickness of the sock, go for whichever is most comfortable to you. Double layer socks are designed to minimize the risk of blisters by allowing the two layers of the socks to rub against each other instead of rubbing against the skin. Double layer socks work great

Do I need more than one pair of running shoes?

Contrary to a popular myth, studies have shown that running shoes do not regain cushioning if allowed to "rest" between runs so there is no advantage to alternating the same model of running shoes.

Some people choose to run in two different models so that they aren't experiencing the exact same foot-strike run after run, day after day - not a bad idea for higher mileage runners as long as the two models are appropriate for your foot type. Also, having two pairs of shoes can allow one pair to dry out after a longer or wet run.

Runners who consistently alternate their running workouts may want a light shoe for their speed-work, a more durable model for longer runs and/or a trail shoe for off road workouts.

The most important thing to keep in mind whether you own one pair or three pairs of shoes is to keep track of how many miles you have on each pair.

How long does it take to break in a running shoe?

Don't wait for your shoes to "break in." Unlike most other athletic shoes, running shoes are made from synthetic materials - not leather. They do not stretch or give. They should fit true from the first day. If a running shoe does not feel comfortable from the first run it will most likely never feel comfortable. Don't ignore pressure points, hot spots or irritating seams.


Think you require treatment for your shin splints symptoms?

Visit our sports podiatry clinic pages for a clinic near you.