No doubt many have already begun to plan their race wardrobe, as pixie tutus, Goofy hats and mouse ears are requisite equipment for runDisney races. Hopefully, however, the most crucial piece of apparel--the running shoe--is not overlooked. I don't mean to mislead--I am far from a race connoisseur, and had never set sneaker to pavement until several months ago. My son and I ran the Buzz and Woody 5K this past January during Walt Disney World's Marathon Weekend, and an enthusiast was born. However, as a physical therapist practicing in California and New York, I have been treating runners and their injuries for over 30 years. One question is posed by this athletic population over and over, and I have boiled down my typical response below. If one (or more) of these runDisney races are in your future, you too may be asking:
Can you prescribe the best running shoe for me?
- Unless you concurrently own a running shoe store, no orthopedist, physical therapist nor athletic trainer has the full expertise to answer this query. The athletic shoe market has grown so dramatically over the past ten years, that unless you are completely current on the latest trends, you will be doing your patient an absolute disservice in making that recommendation. The Saucony Progrid that works so well for you this season may be completely retooled by the next. One size and one manufacturer simply will not fit all. Experts at specialty running shoe stores ride the trends and are intimate with each brand, line and their revolving variations. Seek out one of these shops, and stay away from your neighborhood mall.
- What you should ask your health care provider for is an evaluation of your foot type; flat footed, high arched, supinator or pronator. If you are not under the care of a professional, a good running shoe salesperson can help. Bring your old running or street shoes with you for clues. (For example, if the inside of your shoe is substantially worn, you are no doubt a chronic overpronator, and may require a more solid shoe with a medial post.)
- I LOVE a store with a treadmill; call ahead and see if your local store has one. A good running analysis can easily be done with the proper equipment, and a variety of alignment abnormalities can be spotted and then corrected with the appropriate shoe- as if by magic!
- An ounce of prevention... Nearly all running injuries are the result of anatomical variations, weakness or inflexibility. Period. If you have a history of lower leg issues- plantar fascitis, achilles tendonitis or "shin splints," do yourself a favor up front and get fitted for an orthotic before you start training. A good insert can prevent future doctor visits, medications, and time away from the sport you love.
- If you already own othotics, shop with them. If you have yet to fill a prescription, wait until you obtain your orthotic. These custom fit insoles may add half a size, or an additional grade of width to your actual shoe size, so this is an absolute need-to-know.
- Although obvious, have both feet measured, and while standing with equal weight on both legs. Try to shop later in the afternoon, as your feet will swell during the day. Wearing your running socks is also a must, and buy for your larger foot (feet are rarely the exact same size). Injuries, age and/or pregnancy can substantially alter your foot measurement, so don't assume that you will forever be that size 7 narrow!
- Allow for almost one thumbnail's width between the great toe of your larger foot and the end of the shoe. Your foot will become larger as you run, and you will need sufficient room in the toe box. Too much forward motion in a small shoe can lead to the dreaded "black toe", or bruising below the nail from constant impact. On average, you will require a sneaker one half to a full size bigger than your regular shoe.
- Tell them about your running. Let the salesperson know what you are training for. Give him or her information about what your running goals are; recreational, 5K, or full marathon. Tell them how often you run, and on what surfaces.
- Elastic shoe laces are a perfect all-forgiving addition to your running shoe. If you've miscalculated any of the above, these can be the perfect quick-fix.
- Barefoot running. Unless you have grown up with the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico, I would strongly suggest that you resist this latest running craze. In our society, we quickly put our toddlers into shoes as soon as they are weight bearing. Our foot and ankle musculature has never been trained to work independently from our shoes, and our heel cords shorten in response to our shoe's heel heights. Though sound in theory, this is yet another phenomenon that falls short in practice...
This is a guest post by Donna from DISTherapy, a great blog about Disney, running, and life! Check it out today!