Attention all athletes and weekend warriors, are you ready to take the sneaker challenge and is a good sneaker enough to prevent injury and enhance performance? This question applies whether you're an athlete, casual runner or walker.
Tip 1 - Understand Your Pattern Of Gait
First it starts with understanding your pattern of gait. Basically all individuals fall into one of three possible patterns: neutral, pronation or supination. Normal gait is maintained by three ligaments in the foot, the transverse ligament, medial ligament and lateral longitudinal ligament. When all three ligament structures are in tack and well maintained you have a normal or neutral gait.
In a standing position you have weight bearing in the heel, across the balls of the toes and the tip of the toes, with less weight bearing in the mid foot. When an individual walks or runs they will demonstrate a heel strike, rolling to the mid foot stance and off the first, second and third toe which is referred to as the toe off.
When an individual pronates, the weight is transferred to the inner surface of the foot and the arch collapses (a flat foot posture). In contrary when an individual supinates, the weight is transferred to the outer surface of the foot which tends to stress the ankle and force the weight to transfer in appropriately off the outer toes. Once you understand your pattern you can take the first step to remedying the mechanical imbalances you have and potentially avoid running injuries and other repetitive injuries. The number one rule to injury prevention is come with the proper equipment and use good equipment in all sports. For every athlete this starts with their feet/foot wear.
Tip 2 - Consult A Reputable Footwear Store
Some will ask, is that enough? The answer is not that cut and dry. It depends on your
- mechanical needs
- sport participation
- overall fitness level
So, for some the answer is yes. For others, no. How can you tell or be certain that your sneaker is doing the job, is appropriate for your gait pattern and is enough to correct your poor mechanics and enhance your performance? Consult the experts. Use a reputable sneaker store or sports specific store for your footwear.
Make sure the store performs a gait analysis, by watching your walking and running pattern on a treadmill. Then they size your foot and direct you to the product that will best suit your needs. This is not to be confused with suiting you to the style or brand you want. This is Form = Function, and don’t worry the manufactures understand fashion too. But it doesn’t stop there. Which is where most people stop in the sneaker buying process.
Tip 3 - Visit A Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP)
The next stop is to a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP). Why? Because you need the next set of expert eyes to determine if all the weight bearing joints are being supported, not just the feet! Your CCSP will take the gait analysis to the next level, by evaluating your full standing posture and perform a series of 7 full body exercises / movements to determine if all patterns of movement are being supported and performed correctly.
This analysis is the standard gait analysis, with postural analysis and Systematic Functional Movement Analysis. The outcome these highly specialized combined analyses may result in the recommendation for additional joint mobilization or manipulations for joint correction, specific strength and training for muscle imbalances, or customized insert / orthotics to ultimately stabilize your mechanics. And thus, eliminating your potential for injury, not just reducing it.