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Put your best foot forward

Buying a pair of shoes for your jog? Don’t fall for the fancy, make sure you get your money’s worth. 

Published: 13th April 2021 09:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th April 2021 02:52 PM   |  A+A-

Jogging

For representational purposes

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Starting the day with a run, a jog or a brisk walk is a necessity in today’s pandemic age, considering the sedentary lifestyle most of us lead. But stopping yourself from snoozing your alarm and getting out of bed needs immense motivation. And where does this come from — most often it is from fancy sportswear: quick-dry apparel, sweat-proof earpods and how can we forget, a bright, designer pair of shoes. You’ve spent a fortune on these, went for the top brands, and are making a ‘style statement’, at least you think you are. 

Don’t get me wrong! There’s no harm in that, until you overlook the basics and fall for the fancy. This piece is on the importance of picking the right pair of running shoes and what to look for before shelling out those big bucks. We speak to orthopaedicians and sports medicine specialists in Hyderabad to find out what it takes to run/jog/walk right. So, grab your protein shake, sit back and read on as we bust a few myths and enlighten you with tips which will get your money’s worth next time you splurge on shoes.

Know your feet

Prof Maj Dr S Bakhtiar Choudhary, sports medicine and occupational health consultant, is aghast at the low awareness about how human feet function. “Human feet are soft, we don’t have hooves like horses. Yes, there are tribals, farmers and those who are into rigorous physical activity due to which their feet turn tough. But, by nature, our feet need some form of support,” he says.

The modern infrastructure we live and work in has hard flooring which is usually made of tiles, marble or stone. When we walk, we produce a force and the floor/surface a reaction force. “This is no rocket science. That’s why in palaces they used to spread carpets so that one does not develop heel or arch pain,” says Dr Choudhary. Also, there’s this misconception that walking barefoot stimulates blood circulation and is good for your feet.

This will only cause flat feet and injuries to the foot arch. Dr Choudhary insists that people should wear footwear even at home because these days, we spend most of our time at home. Have a separate pair for home use, he says. 

Now that you know a little about your feet, let’s get down to business. What should you look for while buying a pair of shoes? For us morning joggers, walkers and runners, cross-training shoes are what you need. These are nothing but multi-purpose footwear. These days shoes come with sophisticated gel technology which is essentially a combination of strengthened rubber and plastic. It is rigid yet flexible enough. Here are some things you need to keep in mind before picking up those chic shoes off the shelf.

Busting the ‘brand’ myth   
Let’s bust the biggest myth of all time. Brands do not play a role in the health of your feet. All that matters is comfort and some of the top brands may promise you that, but fail to deliver. So be wise and buy smart, advise Dr Choudhary and Dr Kumar

The body
Go for snug but not too tight. A 100% fitting shoe will simply lead to a host of problems over time. Also, a loose shoe will cause ankle sprains, and we don’t want that! Make sure your shoes fit you well, with just about enough space for your feet to breathe. Also, keep in mind that feet tend to swell after workouts, so budget space for that too. Make sure the shoe covers your entire foot and avoid narrow cuts such as slipons, advises Dr Choudhary

The heel        
The Achilles tendon — a tough fibrous tissue that connects the calf muscles with the heel bone — is tighter in humans, thanks to evolution. Exerting too much pressure on this can cause heel pain. And one major reason for this is bad footwear. Make sure the heel is at least half to three-fourth inch. “Your heel will rotate if the shoe does not fit well. This causes pain and plantar fasciitis, which is an inflamed tendon,” says Dr P Naveen Kumar, an orthopaedician who runs a clinic at Abids and Kukatpally. He urges people to completely avoid using flat footwear, however fancy they may be. According to Dr Choudhary, the heel compartment in a shoe is the most important — it should be strong   

Toe gap
We have long toes, short toes, broad forefoot, narrow forefoot. How do you know what’s the perfect fit? Just pinch the space in front of your toes and you’ll know if there’s enough room. Or measure the gap between your longest toe (second toe) and the top of the shoe — it should be about half an inch. If your toes overlap each other, it is too tight. If there’s too much space in front of your toes, you will end up exerting pressure on the heel, warns Dr Kumar

The sole
Cross-training shoes usually have an irregular pattern on the sole. This is what makes it the ideal choice for running, jogging and walking. Dr Choudhary suggests that working women also use these type of shoes. “Women complain of heel pain more than men do, that’s because they think wearing footwear at home is unhygienic. Also, those working in offices want fashionable stuff. Most Indian women are short and their feet don’t reach the ground when they sit in their office chair. They don’t even use a footrest and this is the major cause for ankle, heel and back pains,” he says, adding that a good sole can keep one away from so many orthopaedic problems

The sole
Cross-training shoes usually have an irregular pattern on the sole. This is what makes it the ideal choice for running, jogging and walking. Dr Choudhary suggests that working women also use these type of shoes. “Women complain of heel pain more than men do, that’s because they think wearing footwear at home is unhygienic. Also, those working in offices want fashionable stuff. Most Indian women are short and their feet don’t reach the ground when they sit in their office chair. They don’t even use a footrest and this is the major cause for ankle, heel and back pains,” he says, adding that a good sole can keep one away from so many orthopaedic problems

Correcting flat feet
People with flat feet usually do not have arches or these are too low. It is important to correct this condition at an early age, ideally before 10 years, as after that, the design of the feet stabilises. Those with this condition, who are older, must change their footwear every year

Lifespan of a shoe 
In fact, the life of any shoe is not more than one and half years. “If you buy a pair this summer, make sure you junk it by the next summer. If you have not used them, throw them away in one and half years,” says Dr Choudhary. This is because the humidity and temperature make shoes hard
 

— Himabindu Reddy
 himabindugopinath@newindianexpress.com
 @himureddy


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