Big toe, foot, and ankle mechanics are very important as a runner, so is your runner’s footwear! Your shoe should ideally allow your foot and ankle to function normally and give you a more natural running experience.
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to runner’s footwear:
>> A wide toe box is essential to allow your foot to play. The foot naturally widens towards the toes, so a shoe that crams the toes together is working against you. The foot should be able to become mobile and buffer impact as it hits the ground, and the toes (big toe especially) must be free to move and push off each stride
>> Transitioning to having no heel elevation is something to aim for as a runner. Most running shoes have elevated heels, and many can have significant heels. A heel like this will throw off running mechanics and promote more of a heel strike. It will also modify how we use the calf/Achilles complex to spring us forward. A heel will play into ankle and calf stiffness by having the ankle work in a shortened ROM.
Look for less of a drop in your shoe, and gradually reduce the heel height over time to zero while working on ankle ROM and tissue health.
>> Look for a shoe with minimal cushioning!!! A shoe shouldn’t modify how you run. Having a huge cushion in your heel is a bad idea, as it will allow for a heel strike/inefficient running mechanics and ultimately send the impact forces elsewhere – upstream to the knee, hip and low back.
Choose your footwear wisely, and be smart about transitioning. It’s all about HOW you are running, so start working on your technique and don’t let your shoe get in the way of that.