Feet are the foundation of our posture and the platform from which we move. When imbalanced, the body works to correct the issue by redistributing weight, which alters the natural posture and alignment of the spine. Over time, this causes pressure and stress on the muscles, which can lead to back or leg pain.
Properly fitted footwear can provide mechanical support and protection, and can help ensure that the body is balanced and aligned. Before you embark on a new fitness routine this spring, it is important to consider the correct footwear choice for your exercise style. The appropriate shoes will support your springtime workouts, as well as protect against injury and back pain.
If you are interested in walking for exercise, footwear choice is important. Walking shoes allow feet to roll slightly inwards and outwards, helping balance the various forces that act on the body while it is in motion. Make sure that the shoes feel secure with a close fit at the heel and midfoot. It is also important that the shoes allow for flexibility in the forefoot to enjoy smooth motion, balance and comfort.
Running shoes are a necessary tool for those who would like to start a jogging or running regimen. Running creates large amounts of force at foot-ground contact, which the shoes help absorb. There is no one perfect pair of running shoes for every runner; the right shoes depend on individual biomechanics. The three main types of running shoes are motion control, stability and cushioning shoes, and each work to address different needs.
Motion Control Shoes
Motion-control running shoes support feet that tend to pronate, or excessively roll inwards when they hit the ground. Left untreated over time, pronation can cause a flattened arch, or “flat feet,” as well as alignment and lower back issues. The shoes help reduce the degree of pronation by offering firm midsoles and control features.
Stability shoes also address pronation, but for a different foot shape and level of need. Whereas motion control shoes are designed for flat feet, stability shoes are made for runners who have a normal arch but still tend to mildly pronate. These shoes offer more flexibility and cushioning than motion control shoes, as they do not need to hold the foot as firmly in place.
Cushioning shoes are designed for those who tend to supinate, or walk or run with most of the weight on the outside of the feet. Supination results in insufficient impact reduction when the feet land, putting extra pressure on the feet and heightening the risk of shin splints, fractures, and ankle and knee injuries. The shoes’ thick, added cushioning helps to reduce the impact of the supinator’s stride.
If you would like to try cross-training exercises that involve sprinting, jumping, and changing direction, such as boot camp workouts or city challenge obstacles races, training shoes are the best choice for you. The lightweight, flexible footwear provides support for side-to-side movements, and features cushioning under the heels and balls of the feet for extra shock absorption during jumps.
No matter your foot type or fitness regimen, consult a physician before starting a new workout if you suffer from back pain or leg pain. They may suggest that you try foot orthotics, removable shoe inserts that provide the additional comfort and support that you need for a safe and enjoyable experience.
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