Explore how your running shoes are constructed
Running shoes – the foundation or damnation of a running career. There are hundreds of different running shoes on the market and each one offers a unique design and targets a specific type of runner. Properly designed running shoes will respond to your foot shape, pronation tendencies and running technique in a manner that keeps your feet stable and your joints protected from excessive jarring. Improperly designed running shoes will do little for you, and in some cases could actually cause you to develop a running injury. Before you buy your next pair of running shoes learn how they are constructed and what the latest shoe technology can offer you.
Your Gait Cycle
The way you run, or the way you progress through your gait cycle, impacts what type of running shoe will work best for you. It is difficult to judge your gait cycle style without a third party watching you or without the use of a video device. What you will want to look for is how your arch shape and pronation style affects your body position when you run. For example, a “normal” gait cycle will include landing on your heel, rotating forward toward your toes, slightly pronating and then pushing off.
Pronation is basically just the angling of your heel bone inward. A little pronation is expected. However, overpronating (rotating the heels excessively so the knees point inward), or supinating (rotating the heels excessively so the knees point outward) are not “normal” body mechanics and they can lead to injuries.
Almost every shoe is made up of an upper and a sole. The sole is the foundation of the shoe. The sole has two main functions, to provide a protective barrier between your foot and the pavement and to provide your feet with a little bit of cushion. Each sole has about three layers. The outersole is made up of a rubber like material that is hard and has a tread. The midsole is the key to your shoe’s design, and it is where shoe design technology comes into play. The midsole’s design is going to determine what the shoe is good for. For example, it can be designed to provide maximum cushion, it can be designed to correct pronation problems or it can be designed to handle the extra support needs of larger runners.
The second part of a running shoe’s construction is its upper. While a visually important element of your shoe, its design is less important than the sole’s design. However, it will provide your feet with some support and stability.
A third part of a running shoe is the sockliner. High end sockliners are particularly useful for runners. They provide an extra layer of cushion and can even help to support high arches. Another great feature of sockliners is that they are removable. This allows you to wash them occasionally and keep your shoes from stinking or growing legs of their own.
If you have overpronation problems, then there are three shoe construction technologies that you will want to look into. The first is the crumple zone. This helps your overpronation by separating the midsoles from the lateral heel. A medial post, which is an extra dense and stiff foam block that is position on the medial side of your foot, is another construction advancement that can help you if you overpronate while running. This helps to stabilize your foot and keeps it from rocking to the medial side. The final technology that you can look for in a shoe design is a midfoot shank. This is a semi-rigid shank that is located in the middle of your shoe. Again, it is designed to stop your foot from rotating while you walk or run.