As a physiotherapist with a passion for running, I am always looking for opportunities to educate fellow runners on how to avoid injuries. With the explosion of e-media it’s difficult to know where to turn to for sound advice. It is my goal to provide you with the most current scientific data related to running, as well as my own experience as an avid runner.
Over the years, I have certainly had my share of injuries. Amongst them: runner’s knee, achilles tendonitis, shin splints, stress fractures, a partial calf tear and plantar fasciitis….to name a few! So now you’re probably wondering: how could a physiotherapist, working in the field of sports medicine, not know better? The problem with me, as I’m sure it is with most of you, is that although I do know better, my passion for running sometimes overrides my better judgement and I continue to run despite the pain.
That being said, I have definitely learned a few things in the last 15 years working with runners of all levels, and I feel privileged to be able share this information with you, in an effort to hopefully improve your knowledge as well as help you to avoid unwanted injuries!
I agonized over what to talk about for my first entry, and finally decided to start from the ground up. Therefore, let’s talk about shoes!
The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world, has recently revised and published their second guide on “Selecting a Running Shoe”. The ACSM is a highly respected organization and I encourage you to go to their website: http://www.acsm.org/
When reviewing the old version, which was written in 2011, it was striking how many things have changed. For those of you who are avid runners, it is no secret that the shoe trend has moved away from the big cushioned heel shoes to a more minimalist shoe. The barefoot trend is a hot topic and much research continues to emerge but for now, we can use the following as a guide to shoe selection.
Here is a brief summary of the major changes in the recommendations:
In 2011, the ACSM recommended finding a shoe that fit your specific foot characteristics. The “normal arch foot” would need a stability shoe, a “low arch foot” would need a motion control shoe and a “high arch foot” would do better with a cushioned shoe. In 2014, not surprisingly, this previous recommendation has completely changed and they now state that “foot shape or arch height are not good indicators of what kind of running shoe to buy”. Their current recommendations are much more detailed and specific. I think this is a well written guide and will help many runners in selecting a good running shoe. Always remember to listen to your body, especially your feet when changing shoes. Take it one step at a time!
Other specific tips from the ACSM on selecting a good running shoe.
- Select a shoe with minimal heel to toe drop (<6mm)
- Select a neutral shoe
- Select a light shoe (< 10 ounces for males< 8 ounces for females)
- Avoid high heel cushioned shoes
- Extra arch support such as orthotics should be used temporarily (<6-8 weeks) until the foot strength improves
- If transitioning from a high heeled shoe to a zero drop shoe, use a transition shoe with moderate heel to toe drop for a few months.
Francine Eastwood: BScPT
- Registered Physiotherapist
- Certified ART Provider (Upper, Lower, Spine, Nerve Entrapment, Masters)
- Certified Functional Movement Screen (FMS) practitioner
- Certified Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SMFA) practitioner
- Founder of PSI Runner’s Clinic
The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) represents physiotherapists, physiotherapist assistants and physiotherapist students across Canada. CPA members are rehabilitation professionals dedicated to the health, mobility and fitness of Canadians.
Physiotherapists are primary health care professionals who combine their in-depth knowledge of the body and how it works with specialized hands-on clinical skills to assess, diagnose and treat symptoms of illness, injury or disability.
More than 20,000 registered physiotherapists work in Canada, in private clinics, general and rehabilitation hospitals, community health centres, residential care and assisted-living facilities, home visit agencies, workplaces, and schools.
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