August 2020

Taking up pandemic running? Start here

(NC) With gyms closed across the country, many of us have taken to exercising outdoors – whether it’s running, jogging or walking. But enjoying this activity safely is about more than keeping your distance from others.

Each year, more than 1.2 million Canadians are sidelined from their favourite sport due to injuries – injuries that might have been prevented with properly fitting footwear and wise shoe selection.

Why are your shoes so crucial? They provide support, cushioning and protection. If you are running, jumping or even walking for exercise, your shoes can be the difference between an enjoyable workout or a debilitating injury.

“When starting a new exercise routine, the body may not be prepared to handle the stress,” explains Jeff Grimshaw, a Canadian certified pedorthist and president of the Pedorthic Association of Canada.

“Exercise significantly increases force to the feet and exaggerates your foot’s motions, creating more work for the muscles and other structures around the feet. Because everything in the body is connected, movements of the feet can also affect how the rest of our body feels and functions.”

Supportive shoes can limit any excessive foot motions to reduce the stress on the muscles and other parts of the feet. Cushioning may be helpful in exercise shoes to reduce the force put on feet, especially for those with high arches or less flexible feet.

Choose activity-specific footwear, such as running or walking shoes that perfectly fit the size and shape of your foot. Signs of a poor-fitting shoe include redness, calluses, corns, infected toe nails, pain and bruising on your feet.

“Don’t buy ill-fitting new shoes thinking you’ll break them in. They should be comfortable the moment you try them on,” says Grimshaw. “As a rule of thumb, there should be a minimum of a quarter inch of space in the shoe beyond your longest toe, and the heel should fit snugly but not dig in.”

When additional support is recommended, wearing custom orthotics or over-the-counter inserts can be beneficial. Orthotics and shoes work together to alleviate pain and reduce excessive foot motions.

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