Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Happy Feet

Naturally we depend on our feet the most when we run. The poor things have to endure all kinds of stress during a run, with the weight of our bodies pounding down on them with every step. It's super important that we treat our feet well and go over and above to keep them happy, especially if we're running regularly. Many people who suffer from foot pain or joint pain elsewhere on their bodies due to running experience the discomfort because of their footwear. Either they're not wearing the right shoes, or the shoes have been used too much and thus passed their "best before" date. There's all kinds of info out there on how to select the right shoes, and staff at most specialty running stores will be able to offer valuable advice. I'm not an expert, and my knowledge may be severely flawed, but here's what I've been doing to keep my feet happy.

I believe I've found a good running shoe that works for me. I'm not sure if it's the perfect fit, but they're doing the trick nicely. I'm currently running with the Asics GEL Cumulus 12. When looking for the right shoe, I had to think of the following:

- How much cushioning do I need to absorb the impact of running? If there's more cushioning, the shoe could be heavier in weight and make it harder to run fast. Cushioning was most important when I was running overweight. Now it's still important, but I can take some liberties with it. Most shoes will have appropriate cushioning, but some people will want / need more cushioning than others.

- How important is it to have lightweight shoes? One of my favourite pairs of running shoes from back in the day were two things - super lightweight and flourescent yellow. I felt so fast wearing them, but they wore down pretty quick as there wasn't much to the shoes. So in picking a new pair of shoes, I want them to make my feet feel light, but also have enough substance to them that they can withstand a good chunk of mileage worth of wear and tear.

- What kind of stability do I need? Every shoe will support your feet in a different way and your pronation type and understanding it is perhaps the most crucial part of selecting the right shoe. Here's a summary of pronation to get you started. For me, I have high arches on my feet, and I underpronate, most noticeably on my left foot. My right foot pronates a bit more normally despite an even higher arch.

And many people aren't aware of the various lacing techniques you can use to help tailor your shoes even more to your needs. There are actually hundreds out there to read up on. And everyone has unique feet with unique needs, sometimes even from one foot to the other. I made some very simple changes to my shoes' lacing to give my left foot more room in the toe box for my big toe joint to move, and less pressure on the top of my right foot that has a significantly higher arch. It's made a world of difference in keeping my feet comfortable. Keeping your shoes laced exactly how they came in their box might not be right for you.

And finally, blisters are a reality, especially in the summer. To prevent blisters, I make sure I have good socks that wick away moisture. There are several brands out there, but so far my favourites are the Nike Dri-Fit socks (with specific fits for left and right feet) and Wright Socks. On hot days and/or longer runs, I put baby powder on my feet before my socks to help keep them dry. There are other substances you can use, like BodyGlide, but the powder works well for me. I'm also embracing my calloused feet right now as they seem to make me more resistant to blisters. I'm saying no to summertime pedicures and enjoying Cam's playful comments where he compares my feet to horse hooves. :-)

1 comment:

  1. I get to start wearing the same runners as you soon!!! We're gonna MATCH!!! LOL