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How important is having the correct fitting shoes for running and walking, and does it make a difference?

By Hollie Maskell, Physiotherapist, BSc

Why is having good running shoes is important?

Having a good pair of running shoes is important for reasons such as:

  • They provide cushioning for the foot from the impact of foot to ground
  • They provide support for your arches
  • They reduce stress on the ankles, heels and toes
  • Provide stability when running

This can overall improve your running performance as all of the above can prevent injuries such as tendinopathies, joint pains and stress fractures.

When to know when to change your running shoes?

Changing running shoes will be different for everyone as everyone has a different style of running, design of shoe and run different frequencies. It is best to look out for the following signs as a guide to help you decide when it is time to change your running shoes:

  • The midsole feels unsupportive and collapses easily
  • One shoe sole becomes asymmetrically worn compared with the other
  • Worn out sole
  • Uneven sole
  • If you can feel the impact of every step in your feet in can mean that the shock absorption in your shoes has deteriorated

What is gait analysis?

A gait analysis is an analysis made of your gait pattern during either walking or running.  It looks at leg and the body movement to see if running or walking efficiency can be improved. A gait analysis is usually done via video recording so it can be played back and analysed. It can also be done just by observation.

Who can have a gait analysis?

A gait analysis can be done for everyone, not just for runners. If you currently have an injury it can be extremely beneficial to observe your gait to see what potentially can be contributing to your symptoms. It is also useful to have a gait analysis if you haven’t got an injury to see if the efficiency of your walking or running can be improved.

Why can gait analysis be useful before choosing running shoes?

Gait analysis is useful in determining which running shoe is best suited for you. By assessing how you run we can observe the position of your feet, knees and hips during the analysis. As well as running, if you like to go on walks, having supportive trainers can also help to prevent injury, improve your running or walking style and improve overall performance.

What is a gait scan?

A dynamic gait scan is specifically used to analyse the pattern of how your foot strikes the ground and determines the areas of pressure and co-ordination of how your foot moves through it’s different phases. These we call, Heel Strike, Mid Stance and Toe Off. A static gait scan will detail areas of pressure and can show how you distribute your weight in standing. This will give us great info on Postural Sway, which can help us in the design of your rehab program. We use all the clinical information and results of the scan to design a custom foot orthotic. This can help you get more control of how your foot moves through the different phases, offload certain pressure areas and ultimately help you be more comfortable with walking and running. It must be stressed however the orthotics are used as an adjunct to your rehab program, not instead of!

In our West London clinics, we have partnered up with Up and Running in Chiswick and Sporting Feet in Putney to allow us to refer patients who we feel would benefit from properly fitted shoes. If you think having a Physiotherapist’s input in your footwear choice, please mention that at your next appointment and we will get a referral form filled out and refer you across to the most appropriate location.

We have a free gait analysis and Orthotic Foot Gait Scan day on Saturday 9th October 2021. If you are interested, give reception a call on 020 8747 4029 or pop us an email on chiswick@bodiesunderconstruction.com

Leslie Abrahams