The importance of visiting a specialist running shoe retailer

Why a specialist sports shoe outlet is a must

Running, we are led to believe, is one of life's great simplicities. Grab some shorts and shoes and head out the door. But in today's ever-increasing technology of running gear, buying the wrong running shoes could be worse than not running at all.

Why we should be shopping at specialist sports shoe outlets

They're typically more expensive, and with their cocktail of technology and choice, they can be a tad overbearing. However, whether you like it or not, using a specialist sports shoe outlet is almost essential in ensuring you keep your running habit alive and well. 

What’s the problem?

We've all been guilty of it; buying at the cheapest store rather than the specialist shop. Rather than focusing on the features or foot shape, provided the shoe fits and is cheap, we're happy, right? We’re happy until injury strikes that is, which is likely to happen if we buy the wrong shoes. 

If you follow the running scene closely, you'll have noticed that there are more injured runners out there than ever before. Walkers aren't immune either and sports shoe experts from podiatrists to retailers say that a big part of the problem is people not choosing shoes that suit their feet.

Part of the problem is the ever-increasing technology making shoes so specialist that there are now models for just about every foot type. Get the wrong model and you could be headed for trouble. Then there's ever-changing technology that in some cases makes shoes that were once perfect no longer suitable. The answer of course is to put some faith in the experts, as the only person who is qualified to find a shoe to suit your foot are the people who see these shoes and the feet that fill them every day – the trained sports shoe specialist.

The most common problem you find runners have is being sold the wrong type of control shoe. For example, if you supinate heavily and get sold an antipronation shoe, there will usually be knee problems.

Many specialists claim that poor shoe choice is much more prevalent and problematic that poor training. The technology in the sports shoe industry changes yearly, and modern shoes are designed specifically for certain foot types and characteristics, so matching your shoe with your foot is crucial.

Specialist running shoe stores can help you learn more about your body, as well as being advised on the right shoe. For example, as you get older your feet tend to spread or if you put on weight, your gait will change. Both of these would effect what your feet do when you're running. This is where the specialist store comes in. They put people in the right running or other sports shoes after going through an individual process of finding a shoe to suit the foot.

Consultation at a specialist foot store normally follows a three-stage process: 

Stage 1

Personal discussion identifying potential areas for injury or shoe issues

Stage 2

Video camera analysis (running/walking) and pressure plate analysis 

From the assessment they are able to establish a lot of factual data including: 

  • Foot type, motion and timing – does your foot pronate or supinate.
  • Irregular pressures that might predispose the foot to pain under the ball of the foot, arch or heel.
  • Type of shoe best suited to your foot
  • Flexibility patterns (or what areas are tight and need stretching)
  • Pelvic and back alignment 

Stage 3

With the five point physical analysis they are able to give confirmatory as well as additional data on why inflexibility of the back, pelvis and legs will significantly affect how the feet work during running, walking or standing. 

Running shoes are so specialised these days that a new or inexperienced runner, just picking shoes off a shelf, could end up injured, as the odds are, the shoe isn’t suited to their feet. So, forget the high street sports store and find out where your nearest specialist running shop is.

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