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Put Your Best Foot Forward

Where their running shoes are concerned, runners may need to think beyond the blinding myriad of colored stripes and swooshes. It’s no longer just a question of shock absorbent gel or strategically placed air pockets.

When you’re considering premium footwear to prevent injuries, sports medicine physicians say that orthotic insoles, or “orthotics” — custom-made to support your particular feet — may be the way to go, especially if your problems are connected to the type of foot with which you were born.

“There are foot structure issues that seem to have a relationship with lower extremity injuries,” said Commander Richard Shaffer, Ph.D., of the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, Calif. Shaffer and his colleagues have studied how foot structure is related to overuse injuries in Navy SEAL recruits during training. Their results were published recently in the American Journal for Sports Medicine.

Shaffer’s team found that recruits with flat feet or high arches were more likely to suffer a stress fracture — one of the most common injuries among runners — than those whose arches have an average curve. His study could have bearing on the estimated 10 million runners in the United States, up to half of whom will experience some kind of foot injury.

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