Choosing running shoes

ROAD races are more than just a fad. In fact, they are increasing in popularity and frequency, with more and more road races being planned each year. This year is no different, but as fitness enthusiasts, first-timers and participants who are in it for fun or the cause gear up for the various 5K and 6K races, it is imperative that certain things are considered when choosing running shoes.

The Jamaica Observer recently visited The Puma Store and Adidas Performance Store, both in Tropical Plaza, Kingston 10, to get pointers on choosing proper footwear, especially for road races. Product category manager - lifestyle for The Puma Store Margaux Brown and Adidas Performance Store's Floor Supervisor Kimberley Salmon walked Your Health Your Wealth through the steps.

Brown said the two things she would determine would be the customer's pronation and the frequency with which they run road races.

Pronation speaks to the way in which the feet roll inwards when you walk or run and is critical for shock absorption.

"They should consider their foot type. So, you have neutral pronation, under-pronation and over-pronation or people who are flat-footed," Brown explained. "Dependent on that, then you can choose the right running shoes."

Neutral pronation is said to be the ideal amount of pronation, which speaks to slight inward movement of the feet, with the outside of the heel making initial contact, before it comes in complete contact with the ground.

Problems develop when a person over-pronates and under-pronates. Over-pronation or flat feet is when the person's foot goes beyond the neutral pronation point, continuing to roll inwards after the shock has been absorbed, while under-pronation is when there is not enough rolling of the feet before it comes into complete contact with the ground.

"More or less our staff is trained to take a look at how it is that you walk but really it is done with a footprint but we do not have that technology, so more or less a trained staff will just look at how a customer walks or runs and then decide what's best," Brown explained.

She admitted that at the time Your Health Your Wealth visited, there were only footwear for people with neutral pronation in stock. She however offered: "If they are flat-footed, they should consider something that has motion control. If they are neutral, it should be something that is very comfortable to you, something that fits half-inch from the tip (of the shoes)."

Brown said that after pronation is determined, the frequency with which the person runs would be the next thing to establish.

"Dependent on the type of runner that you are, like if you are somebody who does it a lot, then you can try something that is lightweight because you are able to control it a lot better compared to somebody who is not very seasoned, that person would need something with a lot more cushion, that is a little heavier."

Salmon told the team that while different brands incorporate different technologies, comfort is key and so too is getting the right fit, because sizing is everything.

"They have to choose comfort, which is key, you also have to think about cushioning for the heels if you happen to have challenges, for example, your ankles, your back," speaking specifically to Adidas-branded footwear, Salmon said. "Also, in terms of for road races, you have shoes that have the adiWEAR technology, which is much stronger to adhere to the road and it will last longer, and it also carries your pressure through your heels, your arches.

She explained that their running shoes also have motion technology.

"So, it will move to how your foot moves. And that's what gives you the cushioning and the support that you need," Salmon stated. "That's pretty much what you need for a road race - the cushioning, your torsion system, your adiWEAR and your adiPRENE, which also helps with any unnecessary shocks."

Both Brown and Salmon agreed that besides the difference in shoe size, men and women have to take the same things into consideration when choosing running shoes. Across the board, Brown said cushioning is important, but more so for those who are not versed at running road races and for those who may have issues with their knees.

To get the best fit, The Puma store manager said it is best to purchase your running shoes in the afternoon after you have been walking around for awhile.

"So you need to ensure that you have enough space but not too much... half-an-inch from the toe, soft cushioning for when you step and also in the ball of the heel," Brown insisted.

While Salmon said it is best to take the socks that you are planning to wear with the sneakers when fitting it, to ensure that it fits comfortably.

And, according to Brown, the avid runner should change their running shoes every three months.

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