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Sports shoes for running, gym and tennis - a UK buyer's guide.

- Sports shoes including trainers for all activities including running, gym, cross training and tennis, by Nike, Reebok, Asics, Saucony and others. Speciality motion control shoes to correct for under / over pronation are also available.


Choosing Sports Shoes

When you take part in a sport or exercise programme, it is important that you wear the correct footwear to support your feet. Whilst taking part in high impact sports (eg running and aerobics), forces in excess of your normal body weight are transmitted through your feet and legs which can lead to injury of muscles, bones, ligaments or tendons if the proper protective support is absent.

There are many different types of sports shoes intended for different sporting activities.

Running Shoes

Running shoes have to be able to absorb the shock of the impact of each step - especially important if running on non-give surfaces such as concrete roads. They can also be used to correct faulty running gaits, such as over pronation (caused by an unpronounced foot arch or "flat foot") or under pronation (suppination - the opposite problem, caused by an overpronounced foot arch).

overpronation, suppination, neutral foot strikeOverpronation, under pronation (supination) and neutral foot strikes

Runners who overpronate will find that there foot rolls inwards at the ankle causing the mid foot to bulge inwards. Overpronation is more common than supination and a frequent cause of overuse injury. Shoes that correct for overpronation are called "motion control". Motion control shoes provide support and a high degree of stability with firm midsoles and other features to reduce the pronation. I myself suffer from this problem quite severely and I find that it also helps to wear gel arch supports inside the motion control trainers. Keep away from cushioned trainers that lack stability.

Runners who suppinate have high foot arches which give them insufficient shock absorbtion. Runners with high arches should choose cushioned shoes that are flexible, to encourage motion in the foot and provide loads of shock absorbtion, and stay away from the motion control trainers described above.

Neutral runners have the correct foot strike and don't need motion control or overly cushioned trainers. They should choose neutral shoes that are a balance between the two extremes, and don't alter the naturally correct foot strike.

Lateral support

You should wear trainers with lateral or sideways support if the sport in which you are participating involves sudden directional changes or acceleration and deceleration. This would include racquet sports such as tennis, squash and badminton. Shoes designed for these sports should provide additional ankle protection to protect them from the lateral forces.

Cross Trainers

Cross trainers are designed for all purpose use in a gym, where you will be undertaking a number of different activities in the purpose designed gym facility - ie the floor is sprung, treadmills have built in shock absorption etc. A cross trainer will most likely offer inadequate support if you decide to take up running outside of the gym environment.

General Points

Whichever trainers you end up buying, you should:

  • ensure that they fit properly.
  • replace them regularly as they lose shock absorption over time. As a guide, mid weight runners should replace their trainers about every 400 miles. If you are heavier, you will need to change them more often; lighter, and you may get away with a few more miles.
M & M Direct
- Big discounts on trainers by Nike, Reebok, Adidas and other manufacturers.
Running Shoes @ FitnessFootwear
- Running shoes with free delivery by New Balance, Mizuno, Vibram, Salomon, Merrell, Brasher and Inov-8.
Trainer Station
- Trainers by Adidas, Converse, K*Swiss, LaCoste, Nike, Puma, Evisu, Fred Perry and Fila.