Nike, Adidas, Asics, Puma, Converse? Do you feel bombarded with the array of brands and colours across the shelves when buying new trainers? What affects your decision when buying a new pair – Colour? Price? Fashion? Have you ever considered picking a trainer that ensures you walk with the correct postural alignment? With the increase of exercise participation in January, I wanted to make sure you aren’t ‘in all the gear, with no idea’, so I’m hoping this post will help.
I went along to a specialist running shop in Welwyn, Hertfordshire to discover the importance of picking the right trainer. Well Run Sports in Welwyn offers a service, in the form of a Gait Analysis, to check you are buying the right trainer for you.
A Gait Analysis is a formal assessment of a walking pattern, providing vital information on the movement of your foot, commonly done in form of a video analysis. Using a video camera and a computer programme, it enables you to see how your foot, ankle and leg moves when walking or running, specifically looking for a degree of pronation. Pronation is the natural inward roll of the foot as the outside part of the heel strikes the ground. This ‘roll’ acts as a shock absorber for the leg and body, which distributes the force of the impact of the heel hitting the ground. If you are wearing a trainer that does not support your degree of pronation, it can have a knock on affect on your ankles, knees, hips and even your back.
On arrival at Well Run Sports, we were greeted by the lovely Liz who carried out the Gait Analysis. I took my boyfriend Andy (if signing him up to the London Triathlon wasn’t bad enough, he is now my new guinea pig for blog posts too). To start the analysis, Andy was put into what is called a neutral trainer, giving a true reflexion of the nautral walking pattern.
Once in the trainers, Andy’s feet were filmed whilst running on the treadmill. The video was then uploaded to a laptop via a programme called DartFish and displayed onto the in-store laptop. The film was then played back in slow motion, giving a very clear picture of how the feet move when in action. Liz then explained the images to us and highlighted any signs of pronation. Andy had very little signs of pronation so was recommended a neutral trainer for his feet. Having a ‘normal’ pronation pattern does allow more flexibility in the trainer you pick, however a specialised neutral trainer does offer excellent cushioning and support. I, on the other hand, roll in excessively, therefore need a trainer with maximum support.
I feel it is very important to be aware of your pronation type when picking a trainer, as having the appropriate support can help reduce the risk of injury, essentially meaning you can perform better. Investing in decent footwear and reducing the risk of injury also means you are less likely to spend out on physiotherapy appointments and miss out on the exercise you enjoy… And surely being injury free is priceless?!
Final tip from me – It is important to be in the right footwear for any exercise and not just running.
Let me know if you get a gait analysis done and if you were surprised by what you found?