When you run, you subject your feet to a tremendous amount of impact and stress. To avoid injury, your shoes must fit well, provide proper cushioning and support, and resist compression.
While running, you strike the ground with one foot after the other, transmitting forces to the bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles of your feet. You’re also susceptible to the impact forces transmitted through the sole of your shoes. Foot injuries from sports are among the most common kinds of injuries, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS). The AAOS reports that about 28 percent of the injuries that its members treat are related to sports.
Two types of foot injuries, ankle sprains, and fractures account for most sports-related foot injuries. Ankle sprains occur as a result of sudden, unnatural, or forceful movements or twists of the ankle. Fractures are breaks in the bones of the ankle or foot.
Running on hard surfaces like pavement or concrete can accelerate these forces, which can damage your feet, ankles, knees, and hips. Even running on softer surfaces like grass or dirt can be problematic, since your body absorbs the impact more. In addition, shoes with too few or too many support features can cause injuries.
The most common injuries from running are:
- Plantar fasciitis
The plantar fascia is the band of connective tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the toes. The plantar fascia is stretched when you run and can be strained, torn, or ruptured. The condition is often described as “aching heel syndrome” and is characterized by pain felt along the heel of the foot. Runners can alleviate plantar fasciitis by wearing shoes with cushioned soles and arch supports.
- Achilles tendinitis
The Achilles tendon is a group of tendons that connect the calf muscle to the heel bone. When you run, the Achilles tendon is stretched and can tear or rupture. Symptoms of this condition include pain, swelling, swelling, and difficulty putting weight on your foot. To prevent Achilles tendon tendinitis, runners need proper footwear.
Injuries are common. They affect about 40% of amateur runners and cyclists, according to a 2013 LifeTime Fitness study. Something as seemingly innocuous as plantar fasciitis, a stress fracture, or shin splints can sideline you for weeks, months, or even years. By running or cycling with a properly fitted shoe, you can protect yourself from injuries.
There are several factors to consider when buying shoes. While the fit is important, the term “fit” doesn’t mean just the size and width of the shoe. It also refers to the amount of cushioning and arch support. A shoe that’s too large can cause blisters, bunions, and extra pressure. A shoe that’s too small could lead to extra strain or pain on your foot. Arch support is vital to prevent overpronation — a common injury that occurs when the foot rolls inward too much. Shoes that are too narrow could cause calluses and corns, and shoes that are too wide can cause blisters. If a shoe is too narrow, it could lead to ankle injuries, such as sprains. If your foot is flat, a shoe with excess depth in the toe box, called “shoebox depth,” can provide extra stability. A shoe with too much stability can limit natural movement. A shoe that’s too narrow could require you to overpronate, causing your ankle to roll in too much, which could lead to a sprain.
So, how can you choose a pair of shoes that will provide you with years of comfort and support?
- Step 1: Determine Your Needs
The first step in choosing shoes is to figure out what type of footwear you need. Consult with a foot specialist to determine your needs.
- Step 2: Shop Your Local Stores
Once you’ve determined the type of shoes you need, it’s time to go shopping. Many stores offer footwear designed for a variety of activities.
- Step 3: Compare Features
It is wise to consider different brands and compare changes in design. Fit both shoes and determine their comfort, support, and alignment.
Your feet are the foundation of your body. The proper footwear can make a world of difference to both your physical and mental health. And the foundation for all footwear is a solid pair of well-fitted shoes. The wrong footwear can lead to a variety of foot problems, including blisters, corns, calluses, plantar fasciitis, bunions, and more. And these conditions not only give you pain but can also lead to long-term problems related to arthritis and foot deformities.
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