How to find the perfect running shoe?

How to find the perfect running shoe?
07 Jul 2016

Probably the most asked question by runners is “what shoe should I wear”?

There was a period a few years ago where it was sort of trendy to say you were an “over-pronater”, like it was some sort of sentence that your fellow runners would gently shake their head at as they felt sorry for you. Then it became trendy to be a “barefoot runner” or use minimalist footwear as the logical idea of less weight would surely mean faster running.

As a clinician whose practice is guided by quality scientific research it is important to highlight early on in this piece that there is no quality evidence proving a certain shoe type (stability, neutral, cushioned) will suit a certain foot type (pronator or high arched) in injury prevention or efficiency.marathon 3

So I hear you ask “why then when I go for a running assessment do they point out that I collapse & say I need a stability shoe?” and that my dear readers is a called sales! They are selling you a story and a thus a shoe. They are not clinicians who are guided by research but rather by sales and targets.

This year I had the pleasure of working at the London Marathon Expo with an innovative physiotherapy company (YourPhysioPlan) and Mizuno Running where we were utilising the newest and most accurate gait analysis tool to the market, invented by DorsaVi (Australian techy nerds).

Marathon 2

Aim: find the most efficient shoe for each runner.

Naturally being coupled with Mizuno meant we only used their shoes, however I have subsequently done it with several other main brands with successful results (see…no insider bias, I hear all you Nike lovers claiming).

The wireless sensors collect data looking at leg symmetry; average ground reaction force (GRF); average initial peak acceleration (IPA); average ground contact time (GCT); average steps/min; speed; time and distance. It then gets churned into a report. No budget camera or light reflection subjectivity, just RAW SCIENCE you can’t argue with!

I’ll briefly explain how it was done, methodology for you scientists. Height & weight taken, mid-point along the shin bone where the wireless sensors are stuck.  A specially vimove on legsdesigned tool was used to ensure the exact spot every time- reliability √.

The runner started in a provided pair of mid weight stability shoes as a base line measure. 2 minute warm up on the treadmill, then 2 minutes at a self stipulated speed that remained the same for the assessment- reliability √.

marathon 1

After each 2 minutes the runner got off and analysed the results with an expert physio and running shoe expert. Then tried it again in another shoe type- neutral, light weight support, heavy neutral etc until the optimum shoe was found. The results = incredible!

running vimove

Mid weight stability = most optimum shoe:

  1. Greatest overall symmetry- less likely to develop overload injuries on one side.
  2. Least GRF meaning he was hitting the floor with the least amount of force = less of a breaking force = less energy required to get back off.
  3. IPA remained the same throughout (good runner), the less the better as less likely to develop Achilles or Hamstring problems and less likely to develop shin splints or stress fractures.
  4. Least GCT meaning less time on his feet wasting energy and more time in the air.

The irony of this all was not only did he feel more comfortable in these shoes, he had actually been advised, and paid for the cameras, to wear a light weight stability shoe, which as you can see he is worst in.

To point out the obvious here, this efficiency difference was over 2 minutes so think how much better that would result over 26.2 miles. YES YES it was on a treadmill “which isn’t representative of road running” I hear you sceptics moan and…..that is irrelevant as you get proportionate results regardless of surface. The only variable changing was footwear- reliability √.

Keen trial or ultra runners, you can take this software and monitor yourself for up to 24 hours to see what is happening to the quality of your running when you fatigue or when you are on different terrains.

How do I do this? Find your local YourPhysioPlan clinic who has the ViMove software and book an assessment. It’s that easy to find your perfect running shoe.

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