How to Run Right: From Shoes to Injury Prevention

Running shoes these days are insanely pricey. But good running shoes are important, right?

When it comes to all the gimmicks, the real question is: are they necessary? Do you have to spend $140 on new shoes, or will a $60 pair do?

According to Dr. Renee Scola of Chicago Lake Shore Medical Associates, comfort is the most important factor in picking out running shoes.  She says, “I wouldn’t go for the shoes with the latest gimmick. I would just go for the shoes that are best for you.”

Go to a specialty running store
Finding the shoes that are right for you isn’t always easy, so Dr. Scola recommends going to a specialty running store.  At Runner’s Edge in Wilmette, sales associate Moira Ryan recommends running shoes based on your gait pattern, which is how your foot strikes the ground when you walk or run.

By assessing your walk, a good running store will be able to tell if your feet roll inward (pronation), outward (supination), or remain neutral (even weight distribution). Then they’ll recommend the right type of shoe for your running needs.

What about the latest trend, running barefoot?
One of the latest developments in running shoes are those that mimic running barefoot. These shoes are supposed to build muscle by working diverse foot and leg muscles.

Ryan, who also runs cross country for Northwestern University, says, “I would not recommend them immediately for anyone. I think you need to build up to wearing that kind of shoe because basically it offers no support and very little cushioning.”

James Akita, head men’s track and cross country coach for Elmhurst College and coach for Chicago Endurance Sports in Evanston, also recommends a shoe that provides more support for those who run long distances.

Take steps to prevent injuries
To prevent injury, Akita recommends replacing running shoes every 300 to 400 miles. This means if you’re running 15 miles a week, new shoes are needed around every five to six months. Pains in the shins or knees are usually a giveaway that it’s time to make a purchase.  If you do notice pain while running, don’t ignore it.  Akita says, “My advice to anyone is to listen to your body. That’s the biggest key. Your body gives you warnings and tells you when something’s not right.”

To prevent injury, all three of these runners recommend doing the little things, such as stretching, eating right, and taking a recovery day when you need it. Try the elliptical machine, swimming, or biking to give your joints a rest.

Dr. Scola adds,“Typically when you run, your body is hitting the ground with 2 or 3 times body weight, so that’s a lot of impact on your joints.”

So while choosing to run often can be a great health choice, make sure you take the right steps to ensure it doesn’t run you down, instead!

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