Footwear Advice for Runners
It’s Ben here and today i’m going to run you guys through some useful tips to help future proof your running. This blog is going to focus on footwear advice and how to avoid potential footwear related injuries. We will also look at some common running related injuries and discuss how the right footwear choices could be beneficial in helping to reduce pain, and avoid future re-injury.
Prior to addressing footwear
Before looking into your footwear it’s important that you have established the solid base of lower limb strength and conditioning required for your chosen style of running.
How to avoid a footwear related running injuries
Trouble arises when a person makes a drastic change in their footwear, for example going from a highly cushioned shoe like the Asics gel, to a minimalist shoe which has very little cushioning. Large changes in footwear can alter the load distribution on the foot, which can affect the runners bio-mechanics. This change in load and alteration in bio-mechanics can predispose the runner to injury.
High risk of injury during the transition (Salzler et al. 2016)
86% will experience some form of injury during transition if they don’t take a graduated approach
Small changes for the win!
Small changes in footwear may help runners fine tune their running style without putting them at increased risk of injury (Nigg et al. 2015).
What caused my running injury
Questions to ask (?)
What changes have I made leading up to my injury
Have I dramatically increased my training load recently?
Have I recently changed my running footwear?
Have I recently altered my running style
Minimalist running shoes
Should I try minimalist running shoes?
One of the main benefits of minimalist shoes is that they are very lightweight. There is a direct correlation between shoe weight and metabolic demand. For every increase of 100 grams in shoe weight the metabolic demand increases by 1% (Fuller et al. 2015). However, there is also an improved economy with highly cushioned shoes due to decreased muscle activity. Hence it is worth trying to find a balance between cushion and weight.
Ways to reduce injury during shoe transition
Ways to help with the transition:
6 week transition period with 5% increase in training load per week (Fuller et al. 2017)
Using the minimalist shoe index (Esculier et al. 2015)
Footwear advice for specific conditions
Minimalist shoes as they have a small heel drop
Shoes with a larger heel drop to reduce the peak dorsiflexion
Metatarsal stress fracture
Shoes with firmer forefoot
Softer arch support
(Malisoux et al. 2016)
Avoid making big changes in your shoes, take a graduated approach. (Cushion, heel-toe drop, weight, arch support)
Use comfort and symptoms to guide your footwear choices
In general, consider a lighter shoes as it may improve performance (Nigg et al. 2015).
I carried so much around in my subconscious that when I was trying to improve mind and body conquering stress was near the very top of my wishlist.
At some level the brain is like a computer software.
Negative thoughts, angry feelings and irrational thoughts can seep into your subconscious and corrupt our consciousness… the way you think and respond to things.
Next thing you know without actually realising it, you’ve unwittingly programmed your body to be hardwired with tension.
Stress holds you back in all aspects of your life.
It hurts your relationships, costs precious time, weakens your immune system1, affects your ability to make good decisions and your performance at work.
Stress is the silent killer!
People go through life thinking they’ll ‘push through’ until the work day finishes or want until a holiday or retirement before it’s even possible.
Even worse still they convince themselves that they aren’t stressed and have no reason to bear it any mind. Then they go through daily mini-breakdowns mistreating themselves and people around them.
So here’s the secret.
Stress is not a rational thing – it’s an irrational feeling designed to protect you from your environment.
It will only get worse unless you learn to manage it.
The good news is that you can learn to use stress as a tool to make you stronger rather than sap your energy.
Below is a simple table detailing what you may be feeling when stressed
Depending on how you identify your stress signals from the table above I would suggest these Top 3 tips below in how you can manage it today!
1. Re-sync your heart and brain with Heart Math
In terms of retraining your heart and brain to work together nothing comes close to Heart Math.
I underwent this training with Dave O’Brien from 5th Element Wellness and it is a practice I continue to use to this day!
A normal healthy person will have a high heart rate variability (HRV) which means the time in between each heart beat is different with each beat.
Low heart rate variability is a sign of stress
When your nervous system is under stress your body will release stress hormones and over time your heart develops an inflexible unchanging beat.
This state of inflexible heart beat is linked to a host of diseases and even death over time as the heart is under constant stress.
2. Meditation or Mindfulness
The primary goal of meditation is to become more mindful and channeling your attention and response (not being reactive) to your thoughts.
Instead of blindly reacting to outside forces, optimize your thought process (linking your brain and heart using Heart Math) and react as you see fit.
Meditation can mean different things to people which include counting, reciting mantras, breathing, practicing mindfulness through keeping a journal and positive self talk.
I emphasize breathing, keeping a daily journal and positive self talk and my personal mindfulness practices.
I also subscribe to a lot of Ancient Greek philosophy like Seneca the Younger and Marcus Aurelius. Check out @dailystoic for some inspiration!
3. Breathing & Yoga
We all need to learn how to breathe.
The right way to breathe is with your diaphragm also known as ‘belly breathing’.
This kind of breathing helps you relax and control your heart rate.
If you can incorporate this with an exercise practice it can enhance your results quickly!
Personally I like meditative effects of breathwork plus yoga.
Pranayama is the art of Yoga breathing.
Here are a couple of breathing techniques I recommend:
Breath in to the diaphragm through the back of your throat for 4 seconds
Hold for 4 seconds
Breathe out slowly through the back of the throat for 6 seconds
Hold empty breath for 2 seconds or more
Breath in slowly through your nose for 4 seconds
Hold for 7 seconds
Breathe out slowly for 8 seconds
There you have it.
Stress is one of the most overlooked and underappreciated aspects of your health in this modern world.
Diet, sleep and exercise are all important but mental and physiological stress will undermine your best attempts to be healthy unless you manage it.
By rewiring your brain and nervous system to handle stress better and more efficiently you will become more effective and the stress you experience will be the kind that makes you stronger!
Stay happy & healthy out there!
(1) Khansari DN, Murgo AJ and Faith RE. (1990). Effects of Stress on the Immune System. Immunology Today, 11(5), 170-5. doi: 10.1016/0167-5699(90)90069-1
(2)Daubenmier J, Lin J, Blackburn E, Hecht FM, Kristellar J, Maninger N, Kuwata M, Bacchetti P, Havel PJ and Epel E.. (2012). Changes in stress, eating and metabolic factors are related to changes in telomerase activity in a randomized mindfulness intervention pilot study. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 37(7), 917-28. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.10.008