Are your running shoes helping or hurting your stride?

Running is one of the most beneficial aerobic exercises you can do. Not only can it help you burn calories and lose weight, but it can also lower blood pressure, reduce stress and improve mental health. Despite its many health benefits, however, running also comes with certain risks. According to the National Institutes of Health, between 37 and 56 percent of runners experience running-related injuries every year. This is not surprising, as running is a high-impact sport and requires that your feet make regular contact with the ground at relatively high speeds. This impact puts stress on your joints and can result in injuries common among runners, including runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis and shin splints.

Fortunately, you can prevent these injuries easily with the right strategies. One of the most important factors in preventing running injuries involves your footwear. Wearing the right running shoes can help you improve your stride while preventing or minimizing aches, injuries and undue soreness. The following sections discuss the importance of wearing the right running shoes and how to determine whether the shoes you currently have are right for your feet.

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Why are running shoes so important?

While the likelihood of getting running injuries depends on factors like your running experience and previous injury history, the shoes you wear can also help cause — or prevent — injuries. Each year, shoe companies invest a significant amount of time and money in understanding consumers’ bodies and running habits. This research allows them to create shoes designed to address a variety of running problems and needs.

The right running shoes provide sufficient cushioning, helping reduce undue stress on various parts of your feet and lower body. They also provide arch support designed to help stabilize your pronation, which refers to how much your foot rolls inward toward your big toe when you place it on the ground. Both over-pronation and under-pronation (or supination) prevent impact on your feet from being absorbed correctly and can put excessive strain on vulnerable parts of your lower body, including joints. Running shoes are designed to help with these issues while providing comfort, increasing your running capacity and improving your overall performance.

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Signs Your Running Shoes May Be Wrong for You

There are countless brands of running shoes, each one with dozens of styles designed for different uses and needs. Besides varying in weight, shape, fit and style, these shoes are designed with different issues in mind. Some provide extra cushioning and support to correct over-pronation, while others are designed with under-pronators in mind. Regardless of what your particular needs are, however, there are a few ways to determine whether the shoes you have are right for your feet.

The easiest sign that you are wearing the wrong running shoes is comfort. Because running is such a high-impact sport, it is necessary to have comfortable shoes. If you feel that your shoes are too tight or uncomfortable in any way, then they may not be right for you. Shoes that are too narrow or small, for example, may cause your toenails to hurt during exercise, and they will negatively affect your stride. They may also cause blisters and calluses by rubbing against your foot the wrong way. In contrast, shoes that are too loose may slow you down and can even cause joint injuries, because they may prevent your body from adequately absorbing shock.

Another tell-tale sign that your running shoes may not be right for you is regular injury from running. Many runners, particularly those who do not have much experience, overextend themselves by running faster or for longer distances than they are capable of. This can result in common injuries like runner’s knee, stress fractures, pulled muscles and more.

If you are facing injuries from running but have made sure to run with good form without overextending yourself, there is a strong probability that you are not wearing the right shoes. Unchecked over-pronation, for example, can cause pain in the heel, ankle, hip and even lower back. If you are experiencing these issues, your footwear may not be providing you with enough support. If you do not know whether you have over-pronation, supination or neutral pronation, you can purchase insoles designed to correct these issues. Purchasing supportive insoles, like those offered by ComfyWalk, is an affordable and effective way to correct your stride and eliminate pain. You may also purchase insoles in conjunction with specialty running shoes to ensure that your footwear is appropriate. This will allow you to attain maximum comfort and performance.

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