Running may seem like a simple to do. However, running is actually a complex movement that puts stress on the ligaments, bones, and joints of the body. Selecting the correct running shoe is important for increasing performance and avoiding risk of injury. Running shoes should be selected based on your foot type. Considerations such as trail versus road shoes are important. Your foot type dictates the degree of cushioning, stability and motion control you require. The most accurate way to learn your foot type is to visit a local shop that specializes in running shoes. Professionals can measure your arch type, stride and gait and help you with your shoe needs.
The design of running shoes is created around the idea of pronation. Pronation is the natural rolling movement of your ankle from the outside to inside when your foot strikes the ground. If you run properly you strike the ground on the outside of your heel and roll in the direction of your big toe before pushing off once more. Pronation is beneficial because it assists the lower half of your body in absorbing shock and storing energy. Those considered neutral runners pronate correctly and do not need running shoes that help correct their form. Neutral runners can choose from a wide variety of shoes, including barefoot or minimal types. However, those who have arch problems or who adopt an incorrect form while running may experience too much or too little pronation. They may require running shoes that offer additional support.
Those who overpronate experience an over-abundance of ankle rolling. Even while standing, those who severely overpronate display ankles that are angled inward. It is not uncommon for them to have flat feet or curved legs. The tendency to overpronate may cause many injuries. Areas that tend to become injured are the knees, ankles, and Achilles tendon. If you find that you have a tendency to overpronate, you should look at shoes that provide extra stability and motion-control. Motion-control shoes are straight and firm. Shoes of this type do not curve at the tip. The restricted flexibility along the middle of the shoe prohibits the foot from rolling too far inward as your foot strikes the ground.
A less common problem is underpronation. Underpronation, also called supination, is when the feet are unable to roll inward during landing. Those who underpronate have feet that lack flexibility and high arches. This prevents any kind of shock absorption, even though it does place less rotational stress on ankles and knees. This added force can cause fractures, ligament tears, and muscle strains because the legs are trying to compensate for the impact. Those who underpronate need shoes with more cushioning and flexibility. If you have a tendency to underpronate, selecting stability or motion-control shoes may cause you more problems by continuing to prevent pronation.
Debilitating foot pain is a problem for many people. But just as stretching the torso can help alleviate back pain, stretching the feet can also help mend existing foot problems and prevent future ones.
The feet, as the body’s foundation, carry the body’s entire weight and can get easily strained from overexertion. Persistent sharp pain and cramping in the feet are often common concerns. Foot pain and foot problems can be due to any number of causes, and in many cases pain may be eased without medication or doctor visits. It is always a good idea, however, to first rule out any serious medical issues with a physician.
Stretching can help relax the feet and alleviate pain, but is especially important before heavy aerobic exercise. Stretching before such activities can help you avoid experiencing painful cramps or strained foot muscles. Stretches should be performed slowly and deliberately without forceful pulling. The stretch should be held for several seconds before relaxing.
A great way to stretch out and loosen up the foot muscles while sitting is to cross one leg over the other and pull the toes carefully back without overextending. Start by resting the left ankle on the right knee. With the left hand, gently flex the left foot by pulling back on the toes. Do not pull too hard; just hard enough to feel the stretch in the arch of the foot. Then point the toes of the left foot as far as you can. Rotate the motion of pointing with pulling back on the toes. This should relax and stretch the muscles on the bottom and the top of the foot. Doing this stretch ten to twenty times should bring relief. Repeat the whole process for the other foot by resting the right ankle on the left knee.
A stretch that focuses on the often injured Achilles tendon involves standing and facing a wall with your arms out and hands flat against the wall. Step back with one foot, keeping it flat against the floor. Move the other leg forward and lean toward the wall. You should feel a stretch through the back of your leg and your Achilles tendon, but do not push yourself too much. Stop when you feel a stretching sensation, and hold for 30 seconds. Ten repetitions may be done for each foot.
Stretching the feet is important for athletes or those performing aerobic exercise, but it can also help anyone with foot pain caused by poor footwear, plantar fasciitis, or long hours standing and walking. Individuals who tend to their feet by regularly stretching every day should be able to minimize foot pain and prevent new problems from arising.