How to Find the Best Pair of Running Shoes
Choosing a new pair of running shoes can be a rather overwhelming experience- with literally hundreds of different shoes out there to choose from, the task can easily move to downright daunting. As a certified athletic trainer, and an employee at a running specialty store, it is my goal to make it as easy as possible for my customers to choose the correct shoe for their particular biomechanics.
When stopping by for a fitting, I would suggest calling ahead if you have any current injuries or chronic problems; some examples would include plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, stress fractures, tendinitis, shin splints, bunions, etc. By calling ahead, you can assure yourself a little extra time one on one with an employee to determine if there are any special needs for your shoes, such as insoles or arch pads. Also, allow yourself approximately 45-60 minutes for a first-time fitting. You don't want to feel rushed during the process, or feel like you have to settle for a pair of shoes because you don't have the time to try them on.
When preparing for a trip to your local running store, make sure to bring a few things with you. First, bring your current running shoes- the older, the better. We use the old shoes to look at the wear patterns on the tread, and just to see what type of shoe you are purchasing. I typically ask customers what they like and dislike about their current shoes, because it helps to guide me towards what brands and styles that may be similar. Secondly, bring comfortable clothing, and the socks you most often wear when you run; most stores will have you test-run any new shoes, and this will keep you comfortable. Lastly, bring any special orthotics, heel lifts or insoles if you require them- this will ensure a proper fit with your new shoes, and aid in determining how much arch support is derived from your orthotics, versus the shoe alone.
Upon meeting a new customer, I generally will sit down and talk to them before even thinking about what shoes I would recommend. I ask them about their current training regimen; what distances they are running, what surfaces they are running on (treadmill, road, track, etc.), and if they are training for a particular upcoming race. Understanding the goals of the athlete is a very important step in determining the type of shoe. I also discuss any past medical history that would pertain to the athlete's feet or biomechanics.
The next step that I use at my store is to have the customer walk and/or jog on a treadmill without shoes. This is to determine the shape of a person's arches while in motion, and to see what their individual gait pattern looks like. In doing a gait analysis, I am able to determine if a customer is a pronator, supinator, or if there are any biomechanical irregularities, such as walking with one leg externally rotated, possibly indicating a leg length discrepancy. I watch the customer from the front, back and sides to view their gait pattern from heel strike through to toe-off.
Watching a customer's gait pattern then helps me determine what category of shoes would be best suited for that individual. There are three basic categories in running shoes; cushion, stability and motion control. Each category is determined by the amount of arch support in the shoe. From there, I finally am able to pull a few different shoes for the customer to try on; each shoe company uses their own technologies- from the type of cushion system they use, to the construction of the last, so I try to utilize examples from a few different brands, and ask for feedback from the customer to help fine tune the best feel for them.
After we find a shoe that feels comfortable to the customer, I go through a final checklist of sorts. I check the length and width of the shoe, and make sure there are no pressure points that can cause blisters. I ask the customer if the arch of the shoe is comfortable, and make sure that their heels are held snugly in place while walking. The final step is to get the customer back onto the treadmill (or head outside if possible) with the shoes on, and I watch them walk/jog again, to make sure their gait pattern is neutral, and also to do a final check on any biomechanical issues (such as over-pronation) that were corrected with the shoes.
Whether you are a beginning runner, or a seasoned marathoner, I highly recommend that when it comes time for a new pair of running shoes, you visit a running specialty store. Get to know the employees that work there; find out what their educational backgrounds are, and see what kind of training programs they follow. A running specialty store can be an invaluable resource for training tips, nutritional information, technical running apparel, safety while running, and injury prevention. There are also many running stores out there that have running clubs that meet at the store, and some that even run races as a group. Remember, having the correct pair of running shoes can absolutely make the difference between completing your first marathon, or ending up on the injured reserve. Happy feet make happy runners!
5 simple stress management techniques
Relieve stress with these simple stress management techniques.
Stress is caused by many different reasons, not all of which we have any control over. Stress is labeled into one of two categories: external and internal. External stressors
may be as simple as being too hot or too cold, or complicated and come from the environment we are in, such as bad working conditions, abusive relationships. Internal stressors
may be physical problems such as a cold or the flue, or be psychological, such as worrying, anger and loneliness.
These two forms can be further broken down into acute or chronic.
Short term, or acute, stress is an immediate reaction to something around us. This applies to situations such as danger, harassment, imagined events and recalled memories. Also know as 'flight response', once the situation has returned to normal, the body does also.
Long term, or chronic, stress is continuous. This can be work pressure, relationship concerns or money woes.
Many forms of stress are brought on by ourselves. Sometimes we set to high of expectations or allow inconsequential things to provoke us or make us angry. It has been proven that stress can make people ill and is known to cause hypertension and impairs the immune system. Stress has also been linked to strokes and miscarriages.
The best thing you can do for yourself is learning ways to manage the stress in your life. As in all things, sometimes the smallest things can bring the most relief.
1. Breathe. When you find yourself in a stressful situation, take a deep breath. Continue doing so until you feel calmer.
2. Get away from the situation or go outside for fresh air. Taking a deep breath of fresh air can do wonders. Go back to the situation when you feel calmer.
3. Learn to let go. The next time you find yourself getting stressed, decide if the matter is really important to you. If it is not, make the conscious choice to ignore the situation. Heated discussions and anger not only cause stress, but also raise blood pressure levels.
4. Reward yourself. Anytime you've had a very stressful day, reward yourself with small pleasures. This can be as simple as a candy bar, a long bath, watching a movie or reading a few chapters of that best seller you haven't found time to read. By allowing yourself some downtime, it rejuvenates your mind and body, giving you the energy you need to face the next stressful situation.
5. Manage your time. It doesn't matter what you read in magazines or what the television tells you, the fact remains; you can't do it all. Learn to prioritize, worry about accomplishing the things you have to do, not the things you think you should do. Learn to delegate, ask for help when you need it. Pick one thing that has been bugging you and take care of it. Get it out of the way, and move on to the next. As you cross things off your list, your attitude will change and you will feel better and less stressed.