Day: February 13, 2013

Low Down on Running & Hiking Shoes

With all the great weather on the way I’m sure you are looking to the outdoors to start some adventures; perhaps even looking at getting some new shoes. Then you go to the store and see the huge athletic shoe selection and go, “now what?” Well here are some helpful tips on what makes shoes different.

In general:

  • The running surface you are going to use will determine the kind of shoe you need…if it’s a hard/irregular surface you usually need more support and energy absorption.
  • Look to get the shoe comfortably snug with little to no heal slip.
  • The space between your longest toe and the tip of your shoe should be about a finger width…this is because when you put your body weight into one foot (like when you walk or run) your foot lengthens and need room in the shoe.
  • Most running shoes come with “stock” insoles. If your feet need babying, get a different insole and it may make your outdoor adventures more comfortable.

Trail-Running Shoes:
These are the beefed up heavy looking running shoes; they have aggressive outsoles for traction and fortification usually offering higher ankle support, offering support and sole protection from trail obstacles. Use these shoes if you think you will encounter roots, rocks, mud and animal holes during a run or walk.

Road-Running Shoes:
These shoes are the simplified version of the trail-runner. They are designed for pavement or the occasional trip to a wood chipped running track or groomed nature trail. They are usually light and flexible, made to cushion and stabilize your feet during your stride on hard, even surfaces.

Common Running Mishaps:
Pronation involves the natural inward rolling of the foot following the heel strike. The basic pronation will help to absorb impact, relieving pressure on the knees and joints. It is a normal trait of neutral, biomechanically efficient runners.

Overpronation involves an exaggerated inward rolling of the foot. This common trait can leave runners with knee pains and sometimes injury.

Supination involves the outward rolling of the foot, resulting in insufficient impact reduction at landing. This is not a common running trait.

Shoe Types:
Cushioning in shoes provide an elevated shock absorption with minimal arch support; and are great for runners with light pronation or supination. Cushioning can also be used for those neutral runners who go off-pavement more often (it give runners more variety, keeping them from getting repetitive motion injuries).

Stability in shoes helps decelerate basic pronation. These shoes are great for neutral runners or ones who have mild to moderate overpronation, and often utilize a “post” in the midsole.

Motion Control in shoes offers stiffer heels and a straighter design to counter overpronation. These are great for runners who exhibit moderate to severe overpronation.

Shoe Uppers:
Synthetic Leather is a supple, durable, abrasion-resistant material made from nylon and polyester. It is lighter, quick to dry and breathable, requiring no “break-in” time.

Nylon and Nylon Mesh are durable synthetic materials used to reduce weight and increase breathability.

TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) overlays are small, abrasion-resisting additions used to enhance stability and durability.

Midsole Technology:
(This is the cushioning and stability layer between the upper and outsole)
EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) is foam found in running shoes. Cushioning shoes often use just one layer of EVA, or multiple layers if trying to force a flex pattern.

Posts are areas of firmer EVA needed to create sections of the midsole that are harder to compress. Often seen in stability shoes, they are used to decelerate pronation or boost durability. Medial posts reinforce the arch side of the midsole for those runners with overpronation.

Plates are thin, flexible material (nylon or TPU) that stiffens the forefoot of the shoe; and are often used in trail-runners to protect the bottom of the foot from impact with trail obstacles.
Shanks stiffen the midsole and protect the heel and arch. They boost the shoe’s firmness needed in rocky terrain.

TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) is a flexible plastic used in some midsoles for added stability.

Now that you know about shoes and how they can be used for your body and exercise adventures, go get a pair and enjoy everything that Seattle has to offer. Look to utilize them with upcoming SAC hikes, mountain expeditions, trail running as well as the Run club every week. For more information on shoes and any outdoor adventure going on please feel free to contact Fitness Director Jacob Galloway or Outdoor Adventure Coach Brandyn Roark and Thomas Eagen.