Thursday, March 26, 2009

Running Shoes - Structure of Running Shoes.

Running shoes are the most important weapon in the arsenal of the marathon runner. They are a vital element in the prevention of injuries and help to improve running gait. The market for running shoes is huge and the top companies such as Asics, Nike, Addidas, Reebok, Mizuna and New Balance invest an enormous amount of time and money in the technology of running shoes.

Although running shoes have become more and more complicated over the years, they all still consist of a few basic elements:

The outsole: This is the under surface of the running shoe. It is normally treaded and made out of moulded carbon rubber. It must be resistant to wear and often features a studded or waffle pattern to improve traction.

The midsole: This is the most important part of the running shoe as it provides for cushioning and stability. The midsole is most commonly constructed of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), polyurethane (PU) or a combination of the two. A dual density midsole is often a feature in high end running shoes, that has a firmer material on the inner side to help limit pronation (rolling in) of the foot. Many manufacturers have invented their own unique midsole technologies for their running shoes, for example air for Nike, gel for Asics and high tech plastics for Under Armour.

The upper: This is the part of the shoe that covers the top of the foot. It can be made out of leather but it is more usual for it to be composed of a more light weight synthetic material with ventilation. The tongue of the upper should be padded to cushion the top of the foot against the pressure from the laces. The back of the running shoe is heavily padded to protect the Achilles tendon.

The heel counter: This part of the running shoe is responsible for motion control. It is an inflexible cup that surrounds the heel and is built into the upper of the shoe.

Post or footbridge: The footbridge is a band of extra cushioning material on the arch side of the midsole of the running shoe. This is there to counteract pronation.

Marathon runners need the best protection that running shoes can provide. They need to be lightweight, flexible, able to control foot motion and of course be effective shock absorbers. Durability is also vital because of the sheer number of miles that need to be completed both in training and the race itself. Again I would advise a visit to a specailised running store where the staff will have a firm grasp of foot biomechanics and running gaits and will help you to find the perfect running shoe for your style of running. I can personally recommend Nike Air Max Moto + 6 Wht/Sil/yellow
. They are perfect for my neutral gait and lasted me through four marathons. A full review of Nike Air Max Moto 6 will follow in a later post.

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