When we talk about injuries, shoes have considerable importance. Why otherwise, would we wear different shoes for different activities. Tennis shoes, Cricket shoes, dance shoes, jazz shoes, running shoes, aerobic shoes, cross training shoes, we have so many different shoes. What is the difference and why do we need so many shoes? How does right workout shoe help in preventing injury?
During a good workout, we have impact on our joints- ankles, knees, spine etc. Hence, besides working out on the right surface, we must wear shoes which provide us ample cushioning. These shoes should be light weight and breathable. They should also provide good arch support. In aerobics or studio workout, unlike running, we have lateral movement. Here chances of twisting the ankle are high. Hence, these shoes should also have ankle support. Achilles tendon is the thickest tendon of the human body. It is in ankle and is very prone to injury. To avoid that, choose shoes with good ankle support. When we talk about cushioning, choose shoe with good fore foot cushioning as well as the heel. Yet the shoe should be flexible. Sometimes, it is a good idea to consult a podiatrist (foot doctor), who can asses your posture and alignment. We all have some kind of imbalance. Our feet might be over pronated or over supinated. To fix these, they recommend, special customized shoes. Big companies these days do offer to customize your shoes as per your needs.
Good studios have special spring wooden sports flooring. These are expensive. The studio owners expect that you bring your clean studio shoes inside, which carry no dust particles that can scratch their wooden floors. Good sports brands also have scratch proof soles with good grip that prevents skidding. Also these soles have special features that specially help you to pivot on forefoot.
These days we also have smart running shoes. We have shoes that come inbuilt with ipods and heart rate monitors. These record your calories burnt, etc.
Having said all the above, there is another completely contrasting study and observation. The marathon runners from Kenya are known to run bare foot. They have no injury and their joints are pretty strong. Another study revealed that body does get adjusted to the impact. We have a normal mechanism that protects the feet and legs by distributing the forces exerted by impact with the ground. Flatter feet with low arches tend to roll more. Over the last four decades manufacturers have been designing ever-more sophisticated shoes, which they claim can help those with less-effective natural shock absorption. Is it a marketing gimmick or does it actually have any significance? When it comes to the question of whether customized footwear prevents injuries, the evidence is so sparse that some consider it to be a myth. Surprisingly, there is no evidence for the theory that running on hard surface is bad for joints.
I would only say that each human body type is unique. What may be good for me may not work for you and vice a versa. We need to be cautious of injury and think about out body type instead of either aping a strong and conditioned marathon runner or getting swayed by the marketing gimmicks of a good brand. See what works best for you and choose judiciously. Do not choose a shoe because this article tells you to or you read some marketing advertisement or even because your friend wears it and praises it. Try on own. Your body talks to you the best. Listen to your own body.
The ideal type of running shoe is unknown, but those who are not getting injured should stick with the type they already have, and only try different models if they are getting hurt. In the meantime the best advice for anyone starting out seems to be to try on lots of shoes and to choose the ones that are most comfortable. Don’t blame physiotherapists, coaches and specialist shoe-shop assistants who give advice. Turn on your sensors and listen to your body.