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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Which is the most suitable running shoes/form?

Over the years, I have been asked many times by friends, fellow runners and others some very interesting questions about running. Of course, I am not qualify to answer their questions but that does not stop the questions from coming. I suppose it is par for the course since I have been a run leader for the Running Lab Singapore for some years now and that adds some legitimacy to my status.

Picture from kenyaaid.org
In the early days, the most common question I get was which is the best running shoes for them,  Back then, my answers would have been "depends on your foot type and your running gait". And most time, I will add in a "do not choose shoes purely for the design". Of course, people who knows me well, know that that is an advice I never follow myself . There was no such things for me as stability shoes or cushioned shoes. I chooses my shoes primarily based on 1) the color and 2) how cheap it is.

In more recent times, the  question becomes "which is the correct running form re mid foot or heel strike?". When I first started running in 2005, it was heel strike. Not that I consciously adopted it but it came naturally to me. Back then, it was the most natural way to run and I corrected a few friends who were running on their toes.Of course, when the trend moved to mid foot strike, I kept up with the development and switched over to mid foot strike in 2008.
Nowadays, the question has evolved into "should I go into barefoot running or not?". Me again had kept up with the latest development and indulged in it since 2 years ago and has formed some opinion about it.

So what answers do I gave for all these 3 questions? Actually, I cover my arse and give the most general answers - which is "whatever you are most comfortable with" and "do not change for the sake of changing". Incidentally, these answers are more or less the conclusion that these group of researchers came to after  their research, Quote: We tell people we don’t know a thing about the best technique,” he said. He tells runners to use the form they naturally adopt." unquote. And they need to do research to come to this conclusion?

5 years later and older and hopefully wiser, I have come to realise that there is no one best shoes or best running form. Likewise, barefoot running is not the cure all for all the running injuries.   The most expensive shoes are not necessarily the best shoes. In fact, a lot of runners swear by Saucony shoes which is one of the cheapest in the market. Likewise, while heel striker tends to get injuries to the heel, mid foot runners gets injured on the shin and achilles. Ditto barefoot running which comes with its own set of injuries. While I have many friends who are happily running barefoot, I have just as many friends who have gotta injured after switching over to the 5 Fingers. So I end with 3 last words or sentences:
  • Don't fix it if it ain't broken. 
  • To each its own
  • Change only if there is a need. 

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