Lindsey Ebbs Podiatry - Podiatry Insights

How to Reduce Your Injuries by Wearing the Right Trainers

Footwear technology has come a long way over the years, yet many athletes and weekend warriors still get injured.

There can be many reasons for this, but a common one we see at Lindsey Ebbs Podiatry is a lack of understanding on what makes one shoe better than another and not knowing when a shoe has passed its used by date and should be replaced. Also, the trainer manufacturers do a great job of seducing you into buying their most recently launched trainer and it might not be the right one for you?

Appearances can be deceiving

Many patients with common foot injuries will tell us they decided to start exercising again for fitness or to lose weight, so instead of purchasing a new pair of shoes they will have dragged out an old pair from the cupboard that hasn’t seen the light of day for years!

Just because your footwear is clean and still looks good, doesn’t mean that they are functioning and supporting your feet the way they once did. Also, some footwear materials breakdown over time when not used.

In simple terms, an athletic shoe is broken into three parts. The upper, the midsole (cushioning) and the hard outsole.

Why is the focus on the midsole?

According to the manufacturers, this is where all the action is!

Higher-priced footwear manufacturers like to describe their footwear features, such as ‘Air’, ‘Gel’, ‘Meta Rockers’, ‘Energy Return Systems’, ‘Stability Bars’ and the most recent ‘Carbon Plate’ additions. Most athletic shoes share a common denominator, which is a rubber-type material called EVA, which is used in the mid-sole of the shoe.

EVA is made in varying densities and use a numbering system to indicate its softness or firmness. For example, EVA 120 is quite soft, whereas EVA 350 is quite firm. So, when purchasing shoes, it’s a good idea to ask about the density of the EVA used in the shoe.

How do you know if the shoe is cheap?

Less-technical, and cheaper footwear tend to use one density of EVA throughout the mid-sole of the shoe, whereas better quality and more expensive footwear will tend to use a combination of EVA densities in the same mid-sole.

Warning, some very cheap athletic shoes that do not use any EVA and instead use hollowed out hard rubber. The reason they use rubber is because it’s extremely cheap and they hollow it out because it’s quite a heavy material so hollowing it out reduces the weight.

The problem is, it looks like EVA but doesn’t provide any function to the shoe at all

Trainer design

The hardness of the EVA and where it is placed in the shoe design will be determined by the purpose of the shoe. Some shoes are designed to give more foot control, whereas others may be designed with more cushioning for the foot.

Most shoe uppers will look good if they are cleaned on a regular basis and the outsole of the shoe will wear depending on the surface it was used upon.

Shoes used to run on the road will normally show significant outsole wear after a period of time, or number of miles whereas shoes used to complete aerobics or zumba classes, may show little outsole wear due to the indoor floor surface, but the EVA may be completely shot, so you really shouldn’t judge a trainer by its cover!

Therefore, a good looking upper and minimal outsole wear can give you a false sense of security, making you think the shoe is still in good working order.

On average a trainer has had its day after approximately 300- 350 miles despite how it looks on the outside.

What’s your Activity?

It is important when purchasing your shoes to let the sales person know what you’re going to use the shoe for and there’s nothing wrong with asking them when they think the shoe should be replaced but remember whatever the tell you will be a guideline.

If you’re not sure whether it’s time to change your footwear, try on a new pair, in a similar style and possibly the same brand, and you will probably feel the difference immediately. Just because the footwear feels like a favourite pair of slippers, it doesn’t mean they are good for your body in preventing injuries.

It’s always a good idea if you are training and racing to use an identical duplicate pair, so nothing can stop you racing especially if the dog eats your racing trainers the night before!

We are here to help

We’ve been treating runners, casual athletes and weekend warriors for years, so when it comes to understanding footwear, the good, the bad and the ugly, we have a better understanding than most and have seen it all before.

We are here to help in any way we can and when you make your next appointment, please make sure you bring your athletic shoes with you.

We can quickly tell you if the shoe is still in good working order and if it is the right shoe for your foot?


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