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Injury prevention

Emily Smith's picture
Submitted by Emily Smith on February 19, 2012

Our first topic is on foot health and has been provided by Emily Smith, Podiatrist at Sydney Sports Medicine Centre and Balmain Sports Physiotherapy. Please visit our alfresco friends page if you wish to contact Emily about keeping your feet happy!

Are your running shoes appropriate for you?

Running shoes need to provide a stable base of support, cushioning and protection for the foot, as well as fit the shape and length of your foot appropriately. Risk of injury is high if your shoe fails in these fundamental components. Inappropriate footwear may contribute to injury of the foot, ankle, legs, knees, hip and lower back and therefore assessment and fitting by a trained professional is imperative. The prettiest, cheapest or most expensive shoe may not be the appropriate choice and may be detrimental to your training.

Firstly, it is important to identify you are running in a “running shoe” as opposed to a “cross trainer”. Aesthetically they appear very similar, though they differ in function. Cross trainers are appropriate for walking as well as gym work, tennis and social netball. Runners can be worn for both walking and running. Your local trusted retailer or podiatrist can help identify if you are wearing a cross trainer or a jogger


Secondly, your shoe must compliment your individual “foot posture”. To identify your foot posture (there are varying degrees of flat, high arched and neutral foot posture) see your podiatrist or health professional for running and walking gait assessment. Brands including Asics, Brooks, Nike, Mizuno and New Balance make “technical” shoes designed specifically for a certain foot posture. Without getting too ‘technical’, there are a few key indicators to look for in your current shoe or when buying new shoes. For a flat foot, having grey material on the inside midsole of your jogger indicates firmness of that area of the midsole and will help support the foot. This grey material comes in varying degrees, appropriate for varying degrees of flat foot posture. If the inside midsole is white, this indicates cushioning and is most appropriate for a neutral - high arched foot posture. As no running shoes give “arch support” as such, an orthotic may be indicated if further support, cushioning or balancing is required.

Generally, if you are regularly exercising your shoes should be replaced every 8 – 12 months, or every 800 km. Injuries occur when the shoe has no longer got adequate cushioning and support. There are wide and narrow fitting shoes available and the shoe should always be fit standing up with your knee bent.

If you are suffering a lower limb injury or initiating a fitness regime, it is recommended to have your foot posture and current shoes assessed either by a podiatrist or speciality running store.

Emily Smith – Podiatrist