A lot of people assume that sports shoes are reserved only for athletes, and that speed walking in your chappals is completely acceptable. It might be...
Importance of Good Running Shoes
Running shoes are meant to provide gentle support to your feet during the course of any running exercise, and the benefits of wearing running shoes reflect themselves immediately after a workout.
Many people still don’t realize how important it is to invest in a good pair of running shoes. These are the types of people who awkwardly show up for track events or light running exercises in a pair of rubber slippers or crocs. And yes, these are the people who will experience massive amounts of pain, cramps, and sores in their feet right after the exercise.
In this article, we are going to explain why running shoes are important and why you shouldn’t underestimate their impact on your overall fitness.
Why Should I Buy Running Shoes?
Here are the top reasons why you need to invest in a pair of running shoes:
Avoid Sore Feet and Blisters
If you wear any other kind of shoes while running – shoes that are not meant for running – you will end up with blisters on your feet. Even picking the wrong type of socks can make your running experience worse. For example, cotton socks are a major taboo among the runners because they cause friction against your skin.
If something as seemingly inconsequential as socks can have such a huge impact on your feet while running, think about what the wrong shoes can do. If you are wearing inappropriate shoes, your feet will be in really bad shape after your running workout.
Make You Run Better
Good quality running shoes have several benefits, but most importantly, they provide a well-shaped, snug fit that is customized to your feet. They also make your feet feel lighter as you run since they mold to the shape of your feet.
When you are not wearing the right shoes while running, your heels rub against the shoes, and that creates blisters on your feet. This is not the case when you are wearing running shoes, which are specifically designed to keep your feet protected and cushioned as you run.
Also, choosing the best pair for you comes down to pronation.
Pronation simply means the degree your foot rotates toward the inside during your run. All runners fall into two categories: some have too much pronation (their feet rotate too much while running), and some don’t have enough pronation (their feet barely rotates inward when running).
That’s why we recommend visiting a shoe store that specifically sells running shoes. These days many sports shoe stores offer in-store assistance to determine your foot type and what kind of running shoes best fit you. Their staff is generally quite knowledgeable, and they will even let you run around in the shoes before making the final purchasing decision.
Do Running Shoes Matter?
Now that you know why running shoes are important, let’s talk about the “type” of running shoes. As they say, everyone has an opinion. Especially runners! Some prefer minimalist shoes with basic features, and some love the whole enchilada. In a market where choices are endless, it can be all a bit confusing. Does the type of shoe really matter that much?
For your sake (and ours!), we spoke with shoe specialists and physical therapists to see what they think. Read on to find out.
Motion-Control Shoes Vs. Neutral Shoes? – It’s All The Same
Around a decade ago, shoe companies insisted that runners had to match their foot type to the level of support provided by shoes. As a result, runners with “perfect” feet enjoyed wearing cushioned, flexible, and light neutral shoes, while runners with flat feet (or those who overpronated) had to be content with combat-boots-kind of shoes.
Thankfully, within the last ten years research has progressed, and it’s been established that there is little to no benefit in wearing neutral shoes versus motion or stability control shoes.
Good Running Shoes Vs. Bad Running Shoes – You Still Need To Focus On Your Running Mechanics
Some people have this misconception that the right pair of running shoes will somehow fix their injuries. Yes, good-quality running shoes are important so that your feet don’t get hurt, but the way you run or your “running technique” is equally important.
If you are new to running or prone to injuries, you should consider spending some time with expert runners or even a running technique specialist to get your form down. Once you have worked on your form and know how to run in the right stance, then find a shoe that’s right for you.
Current trends seem to focus too much amount of pronation and arch height, and experts say it’s just not as relevant anymore. Buying the most expensive, most exclusive brand shoes don’t make up for the fact that you’d still need to focus on your mechanics to prevent injury.
What Does That Mean?
Running shoes do matter if you want to take your running game to the next level. Good running shoes definitely cushion your feet against a lot of injuries, just don’t underestimate the importance of your gait.
If you are ordering running shoes online, you can still test them because most shoes come with a 30 days warranty (if not more). The best way to test your running shoes is actually running in them on a treadmill. Choose the most comfortable and supportive pair and pay attention to your foot’s preferred path of movement. That means you should allow your feet to move the way they naturally want to, instead of forcing them into a so-called “normal” position. Remember, “normal” is a relative term; what’s normal for your feet completely depends on how comfortable you are.
Most of the experts say that when it comes to picking footwear, we should consider three key factors:
Comfort – Your shoes should fit well and feel good on your feet as you run.
Cushioning – There shouldn’t be too much cushioning, or it can cause “overuse” injuries.
Color – This is less scientific, but if you love how your shoes look, you’re more likely to feel better overall.
The Most Common Myths About Running Shoes
Next, we are going to tackle the common misconceptions people have about running shoes. Ready to burst a few of your bubbles?
There Is “One” Best-Running Shoe Out There.
One of the most common questions we get from running enthusiasts, especially the newbies, is, “what’s the best running shoe these days?” We understand where you’re coming from. It’d sure be nice to be able to pick one winner every year and maybe give a 5 star (or 1 star) rating on new models.
Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple. Companies design running shoes for different kinds of people with different feet, strides, and running mechanisms. What may be the “perfect” shoe for Gupta Uncle’s son next door, might be completely wrong for you! The very features someone else (Gupta Uncle’s son, for example) likes in a shoe may make it super uncomfortable for you.
When we give our final verdict in favor of a shoe and claim it’s the winner, all it means is that it works really well for what it is designed to do and was rated highly by many customers and testers.
Runners, as well as running shoes, are too diverse to be able to give an overall rating or ranking. The only question you should ask is, “would this running shoe work for me?”
Running Shoes Are Prescription
Alright, it’s storytime! Rahul starts running in a pair of sneakers he bought in a departmental store. He develops a couple of blisters and small pains and decides to buy a good pair of “branded” running shoes. He does impressive research online, talks to his experienced-runner-friends, and self-diagnoses himself (quite rightly actually) as an overpronator with weak ankles. He’s told that a certain model of running shoes would be best for him.
Rahul carries this “prescription” with him for several years, convinced that this particular shoe is his “one and only,” and he should only run in this shoe.
Indeed, research and experienced runners can generally help you find the right type of shoes that may work great for you. However, there are oh-so-many other components that impact your gait and the kinds of shoes you really need, and these components can – and do – change over time. Elements such as your range of motion, your weight, your muscular strengths, your stride, balance, speed, and efficiency evolve over the years.
In fact, the original prescription might not have been as accurate as you think. Assessing your running stride is not an easy task, and that’s why we recommend talking to a podiatrist or a physical therapist to help you. They can observe you as you run on a treadmill and then give you pointers about your gait.
The point is finding the right running shoes is an ongoing as well as personal challenge. You should experiment to find what works. As your running mechanism and overall fitness change, your shoes should change as well.
All Branded Shoes Are The Same (For Example, All Under Armour Running Shoes Are The Same)
How many times have you heard someone say, “I only run in Nikes,” or “What do you think of ASICS?”
The fact is every brand has a wide range of shoes designed for a variety of runners, from motion-control maximalists to minimalists. Trusting or distrusting a brand blindly is not good for anyone, least of all you. Every shoe manufacturer makes a plethora of models that differ in fit, cushioning, and performance. Focus on the model, not the brand.
Good Running Shoes Can Make You Run Fast
This one has to be the oldest and still-thriving myth about shoes. Many people seem to think that the right shoes will put jets on their feet, propel them to space, and probably make them the next P. T. Usha or Milkha Singh.
Great shoes can definitely make you feel fast and keep you stress-free while running, and they don’t weigh you down or interfere with your stride. But the real running prowess comes from your muscles, lungs, and heart, which are developed by running regularly. How fast you run only depends on YOU and not the shoe itself.
One Shoe To Rule Them All (I.E., Sticking With One Shoe For The Rest Of Your Running Life)
It’s understandable if you value monogamy so highly, but when it comes to shoes, it’s not recommended. Many runners experiment with different shoes, find one they like, and state their lifetime love and loyalty. Then they run in the same pair every day, replace them with the same-brand-same-model once they wear out, and even stockpile them because, you know, what if the company stops making them in the future and all hell breaks loose?
But studies show that running in different shoes can make you faster, stronger, and less prone to injury. There are major correlations between reduced injuries and running in an assortment of footwear. Every time you put on a different pair of running shoes, the engagement of your feet with the ground changes slightly, changing your gait as well. This strengthens connective tissues and new muscles while reducing the repetitive stress on the same parts of your body.
That’s why it is so important to experiment with shoes. You can do this at the same time and consecutively, for example, you can have a different pair of running shoes for long runs than for speedwork, and also, try a different pair when you’re ready to replace your old pair.
Now that we have busted some myths, it’s time to talk about important factors to keep in mind when buying running shoes
Buying Running Shoes? Here Are 7 Key Factors To Keep In Mind
If you want to create a healthy and sustainable running routine, wearing the right footwear is as critical as setting out on that treadmill or early morning jogs in the first place. As we mentioned earlier, picking the right pair of running shoes depends on a lot of factors, and it’s a very personal decision.
Also, with so many different styles and colors available, you can feel overwhelmed with the choices. That’s why we have created this little checklist for you to be able to pick the best shoes for you.
First of all, it’s important for you to know that you don’t have to be a competitive runner to justify getting a pair tailor-fitted for your requirements. Being equipped with the proper footwear works wonders for ultra-marathoners as well as casual walkers. In fact, running in shoes that fit and support your feet properly is imperative for your physical health.
Every time you put your feet down as you are running, you are generating force three times that weight no matter how slow or fast you go. If you don’t wear proper footwear to help absorb some of that repeated exposure to that massive force, it’s going to increase your chances of getting an injury over time.
With that in mind, here are a few important notes to think about when shopping for your next pair of running shoes.
Your Current Level Of Fitness And Future Fitness Goals
Even if you are not training for a marathon and don’t have a distance in mind, it’s important to understand how you have used your shoes in the past and what you want to use them for in the future.
If you are a new runner, you should consider shoes that are a little more protective because you’re probably still figuring out your form and want to reduce the risk of injury.
On the other hand, if you have regularly been running for 10-20 km a week, or even 20-40 km a week, you should consider shoes that are designed for more stability and performance durability.
Your Stride While Running
According to the experts, understanding your running style and gait is the most crucial thing you can do when buying new shoes.
Running starts with your feet, so if your lower body is already misaligned, each step becomes a potential opportunity for you to get an injury. Wearing the right shoes that are properly aligned with your feet sets you off in the right path for lasting and healthy training.
Consult with a podiatrist, physical therapist, or running shoe expert to get your gait analyzed. They will tell you whether you are neutral, under pronated, or overpronated runner. A neutral stride means your ankles, knees, and hips are all in alignment and your arch only flexed slightly. An under pronated foot needs more cushioning since it tends to roll outward. An overpronated foot needs a stabilizing shoe since it rolls too much in the inward direction.
Are you currently injured or have a history of injuries? The kind of injury you have may help you figure out whether your current running shoes are responsible for the issues and how a new pair can fix that. If you are in a recovery phase, the physical therapist may recommend more supportive shoes.
If you’ve been injured in the past, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Pick a shoe that has a bit more cushion and structure to it, and gradually work your way into more flexible and lighter styles of running shoes.
Your Need for Space
Yes, that’s actually a thing. You may want to make sure there’s at least one inch of empty space between your big toe and the front of the shoe.
Remember, when you run, your feet swell and expand, and there should be enough space in your shoes to accommodate that. Too many people wear shoes that are too small, thinking a tight fit is a good thing. It’s not. It will only impede your toes, creating blisters and sore feet in the process.
Focus on The Midsole
You may be all excited about the color and style of your new running kicks, but don’t forget about the midsole because that’s the most important part when it comes to supporting and cushioning. The bottom of the shoe is much more important than the fabric, and you know it.
The midsole is also the best way to tell if it’s time to replace your current running shoes. If you notice any wrinkling or cracking, you’d better find a new pair of shoes fast.
Adjust Your Feet in New Shoes Slowly
Wearing a brand new pair of shoes to a marathon or an hour-long running session can cause unnecessary foot paid. Instead, keep your old pair in the rotation and work your new shoes slowly into your current running routine. Shocking your feet into a new support system will only lead to blisters and other sorts of pains.
You can begin by wearing your new shoes for only twenty-thirty percent of your weekly running routine, and bit-by-bit increase that number as you ease out of your old shoes.
How You Feel in The New Shoes
Last but not least, the best shoe for you is the shoe that feels specifically tailored to your foot, i.e., the cushioning and support feel just right to you. At the risk of repeating ourselves, there is no one shoe that’s the “best,” however, there are shoes that are best for you. Ask yourself how you want to feel when you run. Do you like to float above the ground or do you prefer to feel the ground beneath?
With that said, if you’re ready to read a more product-focused guide, you can check out our guide for the best running shoes for men in India. It’s a great place to start if you’re new to running and on the hunt for good-quality and high-performance shoes.
Now that you know what you’re looking for in a pair of running shoes, it’s time to get out there and buy the right pair. We have reviewed several best-selling, highly-rated, and best-performing running shoes in India, so our compiled list covers all kinds of runners and preferences. Whether you want a light-as-a-feather or bucket-load of cushioning, we have the shoe for you.
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