Don’t complicate something that’s beautifully simple..
Brace yourself people as we are now entering a minefield. A minefield that is usually made as confusing as possible by technical jargon in an effort to confuse people into being none the wiser. Companies with a vested interest in promoting their own products are producing poor quality research in an attempt to bias the market. This is my attempt to simplify the situation, as I understand it, in a few short lines.
Should you get insoles?
In my opinion insoles are massively over-prescribed. My view is, if it’s not broken don’t fix it. It is not possible to accurately assess foot dynamics by looking at someone in a standing position. Once you start moving muscles tighten, tightening the tendons that run under and around the arches of the foot and your foot dynamics change greatly. The poorest arches can be improved by sensible progression in training and calf exercises. The recreational jogger will usually have no problems if they take a sensible approach. The more serious runner who is impacting with the ground many more times with more force will not get away with it if they are overloading a certain area of the foot.
Trainers v barefoot running.
Christopher McDougall in his book “Born to Run” makes a compelling argument that barefoot running is natural running and that our body responds much better to running in bare feet than it does in trainers. He suggests that the whole trainer industry is based on false pretences. He surmises that through wearing cushioned soles we are losing our stability and adversely altering our biomechanics. I have to say I subscribe to the concept of barefoot running being more natural and cutting out biomechanical abnormalities that would otherwise be present. I use barefoot running in rehab. The problem is that we have adapted greatly since we began to wear footwear and to go straight back to minimalist running, asking joints and soft tissues to suddenly do what they are not accustomed to, can only cause problems. The transition to minimalist or barefoot running takes years of carefully planned progression of training. Barefoot running injuries tend to come from the process of transition, not actual barefoot running. I recommend that every runner do a little barefoot running on grass every week and gradually increase it. It’s great for your muscles, tendons and, more importantly, your technique.
Heel strike v forefoot strike.
Did you ever sit and watch coverage of a marathon? It’s really interesting. Thousands of people and thousands of different running styles. I recently attended a course with a sprint coach in Santry Sports Clinic. He showed us a clip of a 100m final in the Olympics. Eight athletes and guess what? Eight different techniques were evident. Granted, variations are much more subtle and much harder to spot, but evident when pointed out. We are all individual and we all move differently. Don’t get hung up on it. As you improve and strengthen and learn more about your body your technique will change. Try to force it before your body is able to adapt and you will fall victim to injury.
I hope the above makes sense. There’s heaps of research on this topic and many varying opinions. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the topic so if you have an opinion or a question let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org.