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Shoes With Zero Drop, High Drop, And Everything In Between

What’s the deal with a shoe’s drop?

Drop is the height of a shoe’s heel minus the height of a shoe’s toe. If they’re the same, it’s zero. If there’s a difference, the shoe has at least some drop. This measurement is in millimetres, so even if there is a difference, we’re not talking about anything major. However, when you’re running and landing on the ground over and over, a small difference can have a big effect.

The point of a shoe’s drop is to reduce stress on certain parts of your body. By artificially keeping your foot in a certain position, a shoe’s drop can reduce pressure on the Achilles and calves.

Drop shouldn’t be the only consideration when choosing shoes, because it’s just one metric. For example, two shoes with a 4 mm can feel completely different. The amount of cushioning, firmness, structure of the shoe, as well as the intended purpose all play factors.

That said, this guide will help you choose shoes within the same category of drop. Within each range, we provide a few examples of shoes that fall within the given category.

Zero drop

Zero drop refers to no difference between the heel and toe height on your shoes. However, note that there can be varying degrees of heights depending on the shoe, like cushioned or minimal, for example, the offset refers to the height of the heel minus the height of the toe.

Zero drop running shoes mimic how your foot sits on the ground, as naturally, it lies flat. These types of shoes are best for those who forefoot or midfoot strike. By strike, we mean the first point of contact with the ground when landing.

In theory, zero-drop running shoes promote shorter strides, and a more efficient running economy since you’ll be running like you’re barefoot. They allow the foot to operate more naturally, and can prevent overstriding because there’s no artificial support in place like higher-drop shoes.

Note that zero drop running shoes are arguably the most difficult shoes to transition into because of their scarcity in the market. Traditionally, most people wear shoes with at least some drop. Any inefficiencies in your stride will be exacerbated with zero drop running shoes, so only use them if you’re comfortable going with a more natural, less structured shoe.

The most popular brands that manufacture zero drop running shoes include Altra, Topo and Merrell. Altra is by far the most well-known zero drop running shoe brand and the Escalante and Torin are two of their top sellers. Although they’re known among trail runners and ultrarunners, they make road running shoes too.

Low drop (1 to 4 mm)

Low drop running shoes are quite similar to zero drop running shoes as they still provide a relatively natural feel, with a bit more structure.

With low drop running shoes, there’s a slight difference in stack heights. The heel is between 1-4 mm higher than the toe, providing a slight forward momentum. Low drop running shoes are great for midfoot strikers because the drop is usually small enough to encourage a natural stride, with just a bit more cushioning around the heel.

The 1-4 mm drop range is the bread and butter of many brands, including Hoka One One, Saucony, and Asics. You’ll find that many workout and racing shoes are in this range as well.

Medium drop (5 – 8 mm)

Medium drop running shoes are like low drop running shoes. This category would fall in the middle of the spectrum. Unlike low drop shoes, medium drop are better suited for heel strikers and those who want to alleviate stress to their Achilles and calf muscles.

High drop (9+ mm)

Shoes with high drop typically fall under the stability category of running shoes. Generally, if you have inefficiencies in your stride, or are an overpronator, shoes with higher drop have more corrective features to limit the damage running does to your body. High drop shoes are also ideal for those with notoriously tight calves, and for heel strikers.

Alternatively, high drop shoes – a greater amount of cushioning in the heel than the toe – are shoes with a lot of padding underfoot. Like we mentioned, highly-cushioned shoes with significant drop are ideal for heel strikers. This is because with extra padding at the heel, the shoe won’t break down as quickly. So, you’ll have support where you need it for longer.

Check out a wide variety of shoes that we carry in-person at Feet First Clinic. Stop by Monday-Friday between 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. or make an appointment today.

Top Saucony & Asics Shoes To Run In Right Now

As an avid runner and a writer who focuses on gear reviews, I’ve tested just about every type of running shoe on the market.

Since 2015, I’ve worn and tested more than 60 pairs of running shoes from all of the major brands. Overall, I’ve run in more than 150 different pairs of shoes in my lifetime. Two brands that consistently stand out for their value and quality are Saucony and Asics, both of which Feet First Clinic carry in-store.

While you’re here in person, ask us about great orthopedic shoes available to help combat foot problems.

Finding the right shoe is so essential, both for exercise and for your everyday life. Having a quality pair of running shoes can help prevent injury, and can reduce the strain you put on your legs.

With so many brands and various products offered by each, there is an overwhelming number of options. With so many to choose from, it’s easy to have decision anxiety. Not knowing where to start can be a significant hurdle when deciding what pair of shoes you should buy.

Fortunately, there are easy methods to find the right shoe.

In the clinic, for one, we employ 3D video in order to further analyze gait. Video gait analysis involves being recorded while walking on a treadmill. The video software allows us to slow and stop and zoom in on specific areas during your gait. This is done in order to educate you about your foot type and gait pattern. Following the biomechanical assessment and gait analysis, we may recommend certain devices, shoes and/or exercises to assist with obtaining your optimal biomechanics.

Beyond gait analysis, we can help you choose the right pair of shoes based on your desired outcomes.

We offer every customer a comprehensive footwear assessment free of charge to ensure that you invest in the healthiest footwear for your unique feet. Our footwear specialists and chiropodists will help match your foot shape, structure, and alignment to specific shoes and footwear features that answer to your corrective, supportive, or accommodative needs.

To offer a glimpse into two of the top running shoe brands we carry in-store, these are some of our favourite Saucony and Asics shoes on the market right now.

Top running shoes from Saucony and Asics

Saucony Kinvara 10 (men’s / women’s)

I’ve written extensively about the Kinvara including the Saucony Kinvara 8 and Saucony Kinvara 9. In my opinion, the Saucony Kinvara 10 is the best all-around shoe on the market. It’s neutral-cushioned, meaning it’s great for people who don’t overpronate or supinate. The Kinvara 10 is also light, and offers enough cushioning to help ward off many common foot injuries.

Because of the structure of the shoe, the Kinvara 10 feels more natural than most leading competitors. This is mostly due to the shoe’s drop at just 4 mm, which means the heel is 4 mm higher than the toe. Because the drop (difference between heel and toe heights) of your foot is naturally zero, a lower drop feels like less shoe. However, it puts more strain on your calves and Achilles versus shoes with a higher drop.

The cushioning of the Kinvara 10 has a very marshmallow-like feel, and the landing pad covers quite a lot of surface area. The shoe is spacious and very affordable, retailing for less than $150.

Saucony Ride ISO 2 (men’s / women’s)

If the Saucony Kinvara 10 is like a spring mattress, the Saucony Ride ISO 2 is memory foam. With more cushioning and structure, the Ride ISO 2 is more rigid than the Kinvara 10 but otherwise similar in many ways.

The Ride ISO 2 is ideal for running on asphalt and concrete sidewalks as it has lots of cushioning underfoot. The inner material of the shoe is quite a bit thicker than the Kinvara 10 making it feel extra soft and comfortable from the get-go. The Ride ISO 2 has a drop of 8 mm which means there’s support for your Achilles and calves.

Because of the shoe’s large amount of cushioning, the Saucony Ride ISO 2 is great for runners who underpronate (known as supination). This is because the brunt of the impact is borne by the outer edge of your shoe. So, the Ride ISO 2 has lots of foam underfoot to reduce impact. In turn, that means less soreness in your knees, shins, and feet.

Saucony Guide ISO 2 (men’s / women’s)

The Saucony Guide ISO 2 is the ideal shoe for runners who overpronate, meaning the brunt of the impact is borne by the inner part of your foot. Known to be stiffer than neutral-cushioned shoes, the Guide ISO 2 falls under the stability shoe category. Stability shoes focus more on rigidness and structure because they’re meant to correct imperfections in your stride.

The standout feature of stability footwear is medial support along the inner edge of the shoe. This portion of hard plastic is long-lasting and tougher than regular foam cushioning and is designed to withstand the additional impact that overpronators apply to their arch area. The shoe also has a stiffer plate which requires the load put on your ankles by overpronation.

Asics Dynaflyte 4 (men’s / women’s)

The Asics DynaFlyte 4 is one of Asics’ newest lines of footwear. Though relatively young for a line of footwear, the DynaFlyte 4 sports an excellent upper giving it a comfortable feel. The DynaFlyte 4 is lightweight and has reflective panels to ensure you’re seen at nighttime.

The DynaFlyte 4 stands out in this list because it’s the most fashionable shoe among the bunch. Though you should never choose a functional shoe based on its looks, having various colourways never hurts.

Also, if you’re looking for a comfortable shoe, the DynaFlyte 4 has a fantastic sock liner. The material is super soft and feels great against the feet. If you have a regular or high arch and enjoy neutral cushioned shoes, the DynaFlyte 4 is a solid option.

Asics Gel-Nimbus 21 (men’s / women’s)

The Gel-Nimbus 21 is similar to the Saucony Ride ISO 2. Both are packed full of cushioning and they’re meant to go the distance, no matter how long your runs are. Though on the heavier side for a shoe, you gain additional support thanks to its extra cushioning so it’s a fair tradeoff.

With a 10 mm heel-to-toe drop, the Gel-Nimbus won’t feel as natural as shoes with a lower drop. If you’re prone to Achilles problems, the Gel-Nimbus may be what you’re looking for to stay injury-free.

With the Gel-Nimbus 21, you’re getting a shoe that lasts hundreds of kilometres thanks to the midsole technology. A heel plug and lining around the cushioning means that running won’t wear down the shoe as quickly. That means a shoe that lasts longer.

Asics Gel-Kayano 26 (men’s / women’s)

The Asics Gel-Kayano 26 is the most supportive and responsive shoe on this list. The Gel-Kayano 26 (meaning it’s the 26th iteration of the shoe) is a stability shoe. So, it’s best for overpronators and those who require significant support.

The Gel-Kayano 26 can be considered a sibling to the Asics Gel-Nimbus 21. Both are training shoes for long-distance running. Both will last you quite a while too. Where the Gel-Kayano 26 sets itself apart is the fact that it boasts comfort and structure.

With adjusted heel geometry and cushioning sculpted at an incline, the Gel-Kayano 26 puts less stress on your feet when you pronate. Asics says that its midsole technology combines two different density materials to reduce the risk of flat feet and bunions.

Stop by Feet First Clinic to browse our collection of top running shoes and brands you love.

All You Need To Know About Bone Spurs

A bone spur is an abnormal bone growth.

Bone spurs, also referred to as osteophyte, can occur throughout the body, and along bone edges. Common sites include the spine, neck, and in the foot, specifically in the heel and toes (as pictured in this blog post).

What is a bone spur?

Osteophyte is bony outgrowth at the intersection of your bones. Osteophyte occurs because of damaged joints and develops when the body tries to heal itself from injury. A bone spur can be visible in the form of a hard bump. In other cases, it may not be apparent at all that you have a bone spur.

What can cause a bone spur?

Osteophyte forms when the body tries to repair itself, so there are underlying causes to how and why a bone spur forms.

Osteoarthritis is a leading cause. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and occurs when the cartilage between your bones begins to wear down. Because joint cartilage cannot be repaired, the problem often gets worse if not treated or addressed correctly.

In response, your body forms extra bone to stabilize the damaged joint. One can develop osteoarthritis, and thus a bone spur, because of overuse – running, ballet, and any other sport that puts enormous pressure on your feet – as well as an acute injury, obesity or being overweight, and wearing tight shoes. Overuse can result in osteophyte because of ligament damage and your body attempts to fortify itself by building calcium deposits.

Symptoms

Symptoms of osteophyte include pain, stiffness, tenderness, loss of flexibility, grating sensations, swelling, and seeing bony projection itself.

You may experience loss of flexibility as your joints lose their full range of motion, as well as swelling due to the damaged tissue being inflamed. You may also hear and feel grating due to the bones rubbing together.

Bone Spur
A bone spur on the top of the big toe.

These symptoms are particularly prevalent in athletes who participate in high-impact sports. Those who run, or do gymnastics and ballet are particularly prone, as are older people. Symptoms may get worse over time if not addressed. Plus, you may experience any combination of these symptoms.

Typically, if you have a heel spur, you will notice a bony projection on the underside of the foot. Meanwhile, if you have a bone spur in your metatarsal or toe, there may be a protrusion on the top of your foot. If the growth is serious enough, you may need new shoes to accommodate the growth.

Treatment

Treatment isn’t always necessary, since a bone spur may not cause you any pain or reduce your quality of life.

If you experience pain, visit a professional to get a proper diagnosis and treatment. It should be noted that you cannot remove the bone spur without surgery. But, if you fix the problem at its root, and take certain precautionary steps, bone spurs won’t necessarily be painful, and surgery won’t be necessary. In any case, surgery is a short-term solution as a bone spur can re-develop.

Certain treatments include weight loss, changing shoes, hot and cold therapy to reduce inflammation, and anti-inflammatories.

If you do require surgery, the course of action is to either remove the bone spur entirely or to fuse the bones together. Recovery time can vary, and as always, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.

Prevention of bone spurs

To prevent bone spurs, in essence, you want to reduce your risk of osteoarthritis. Common preventions include:

  • Orthotics, which can help support your feet if you have high or low arches.
  • Avoid wearing shoes tight in the toe and heel region, and find footwear that best suits your foot type by visiting a specialist. Our foot clinic is open six days a week and offers a large selection of supportive and cushioning footwear.
  • Follow the RICE method – rest, ice, compression, and elevation – after intense exercise to allow your body and feet to recover.
  • Visit a doctor if you notice early signs of a bone spur, or osteoarthritis.

Visit us at 2481 Bloor St. W, Toronto or call us at 416.769.3338(FEET) to book an appointment for your foot care needs and treatment.

6 Common Trail Running Injuries

Trail running? More like extreme running.

Trail runners run for hours on end pushing their body to the limit. They endure brutal terrain, harsh conditions, and they put their feet through the wringer.

When running at such extremes, it’s no wonder that injuries are common.

Below are six of the most common trail running injuries, and what you can do to prevent and treat each of the pains. These injuries are not exclusively for trail runners, but are common because of the nature of the sport leaving the average runner more susceptible to these ailments.

Metatarsalgia

Metatarsal pain is discomfort in the small bones within the ball of your foot. Metatarsalgia can start off as a small bruise, and slight discomfort, but can quickly escalate into a serious injury like a metatarsal fracture.v

Fortunately, most trail running shoes these days are built with a rock plate, a rigid piece of plastic within the midsole. The rock plate offers protection against sharp edges on the trail and is essential when running on more technical terrain when facing rocks, roots, and uneven surfaces.

Alternative forms of prevention and treatment include using a metatarsal pad, icing the affected area, and self-massage. When in doubt, and you’re not sure whether the injury is serious, take an extra day or two off of running as a precautionary measure and cross-train in the pool or on the bike instead.

Achilles tendonitis

Trail running consists of a lot of ups and downs.

The undulating terrain is a lot different than say, road running. Constantly climbing and descending can add pressure on parts of your body like your Achilles tendon. When climbing or descending, stress is disproportionally allocated to your lower legs compared to running on flat land.

Achilles tendinitis can be a sharp or dull pain in your Achilles heel and can extend into your lower calf. Because the Achilles is such an essential part of your running economy, addressing the symptoms early is important to prevent the tendinitis to be long-lasting.

When trail running, make sure to ease your way into it, and do not increase mileage too quickly. Doing a proper warm-up with calf raises and some stabilizing exercises can help prevent tendinitis and eliminates the period at the beginning of a run when you’re running on stiff legs. Cold muscles don’t fire properly, and they can lead to overcompensation, with that domino effect reaching your Achilles heel.

Ankle Sprains

An ankle sprain is one of the most common trail running injuries. Because of the rugged terrain and unexpected obstacles that many trails present, all it takes is one wrong step to roll an ankle. When you sprain an ankle, you essentially over-stretch the ligaments or tear them in more serious cases, beyond their maximum. Immediate signs include swelling, often around the top, or lateral side, of your foot, pain, and tenderness.

To lessen the lasting impacts of an ankle sprain, follow the R.I.C.E. protocol which includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This reduces swelling, and the pain to subside. In some cases, and if the sprain isn’t serious, you can have your ankle wrapped for support and continue running, although you’ll be more susceptible to re-spraining it if you come back too quickly.

It’s always good to do a proper warmup before trail running, and you can help prevent ankle sprains by working on mobility. Other ways of avoiding ankle sprains include planning your route ahead of time to account for mud and trail conditions, taking routes within your ability, and allowing adequate space between you and other runners as to not block your eyesight.

If you still experience pain after extended rest, or the pain is extreme immediately, contact a healthcare professional to rule out more serious injuries like a tear or rupture.

Blisters

Thanks to being out on the trains for hours on end, blisters are another common trail running foot injury. And it’s not only the duration of activity but also the crazy fact that in some cases the run involves crossing through – not around – small bodies of water, like Ajax, Ont.’s Seaton Soaker trail race.

Blisters can start small, like a hotspot somewhere on your foot, and get progressively worse if you don’t address the chafing. Investing in proper running socks, and using some sort of anti-chafe cream like vaseline can help prevent blisters in the first place. If you feel one in the early stages, cover it with a band-aid or better yet, use medical paper tape.

Trail Running Injuries

In fact, as published in a recent study, it’s reported “that inexpensive paper tape, the kind available at most drugstores, when applied to blister-prone areas prior to exercise, successfully reduced the incidence of foot blisters in those areas. The tape commonly known as surgical tape is used for wound treatment. It is only mildly adhesive — an advantage because it doesn’t tear the blisters if they do occur.” Sometimes the simplest measure can be the most effective.

ITB Syndrome

Iliotibial band (IT) syndrome is one of the most frustrating and common trail running injuries.

ITB syndrome can be described as an overuse injury of the connective tissues that are located on the outer thigh and knee.

Thanks to the repeated climbs and descents of trail running, your IT band is exposed to more impact. Additionally, the IT band is stressed the most at certain flexion angles, like when ascending, while your knees and IT band take additional stress when descending.

A warm-up with clamshells and stretching out your hip flexors pre-run can help with the pain and tightness. What you want to do here is activate and work the hip abductors, as muscle imbalances and weakness can be the source of the problem.

You don’t necessarily need complete rest from running, but you will need pain management and mileage reduction, if necessary. Investing in a proper foam roller and routinely working the band will help alleviate pain. Plus, stretching our your hip flexors can help release your IT band.

Plantar Fasciitis

This pesky injury arises when you experience pain and inflammation within the tissue on the underside of your feet that connect your heel and toes. The pain can be anywhere from your heel to the ball of your feet and can be sharp or dull.

We recently wrote more about plantar fasciitis, remedies, and prevention methods on our blog, which you can read here.

Are you still experiencing any of these common trail running injuries? Book an appointment with us at Feet First Clinic online or by calling us at 416.769.3338(FEET).

3 Exercises To Help Prevent Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis can be a real pain in the foot.

This pesky injury arises when you experience pain and inflammation within the tissue on the underside of your foot. The pain can be anywhere from your heel to the ball of your foot and can be sharp or dull.

Typically, overuse, old footwear, and weak supporting muscles can contribute to the problem. To cope with overuse, you can rest, and ice. To combat foot pain because of collapsed arches from old footwear, simply replace your shoes. Or, alternatively, you may benefit from orthotics. For the third, there are a number of exercises you can do to help prevent future issues arising from your plantar.

But, when injured, strengthening exercises don’t do much good. That’s for after the pain subsides. Below, we get into what you can do to eliminate the pain in the first place, and what exercises you should incorporate into your routine going forward to stay injury-free.

Eliminating initial pain

As we previously wrote, to deal with the ligament directly, take off your shoes and socks so that you’re barefoot. Sit down on a chair, loop a tea towel under the arch of one of your feet. Push outward with the foot while pulling back with the towel for gentle resistance. Do this several times with each foot.

You should also stretch out your hip flexors because they can contribute to plantar fasciitis. Strained hips create a domino effect on the limbs, changing your gait, tightening your calf muscles and overworking the plantar fascia. Many yoga routines incorporate stretches that work out the hip flexors like the pigeon pose or the bound angle pose.

Additionally, you can use a golf ball, or frozen water bottle to roll out the bottom of your foot. A frozen water bottle works in the same way as a golf ball would in massaging, but with the additional benefit of reducing inflammation.

Next, and once you’re no longer feeling plantar discomfort, you can start with the following exercises to build strength so you can avoid the injury in the future: calf raises, foot doming and towel pickups.

Calf raises

When experiencing plantar fasciitis, or any injury for that matter, it’s important to find the root of the problem. Don’t just address the point of pain itself. Since weakness in certain areas of the body results in a domino effect elsewhere, strengthening the supporting muscles in your legs is crucial. To help strengthen your arch, you can work on your heel and calf muscles through calf raises, which are essentially heel lifts.

Stand at the edge of a step, and push up through your toes and with your calf to raise your heel off the ground. Slowly bring your heel back to the ground and repeat. Start with three sets of 8-10 repetitions and build up accordingly.

Foot doming

Doming is also known as the short foot maneuver. What you want to achieve here is the cupping of your foot (to form a dome), where your arch is off the ground. Imagine scrunching your feet – effectively making your foot ‘shorter’ – and releasing. Don’t be frustrated if this exercise is hard at first; it is. As weird as it may feel, focus on the movement one stage at a time. Eventually, you’ll get the hang of it.

You can also make the exercise easier by using a towel and trying to grab it with your feet and pulling it towards you. This allows your foot to actually grip something. You won’t notice a big difference right away. The goal here is to improve muscle endurance so they don’t become overloaded when exercising.

Towel pickups

As alluded to above, a towel can be an underrated strengthening tool. In this case, and while in a sitting position, keep your heel on the ground while picking up a towel off of the ground using only your toes. Drop down, release and repeat. Aim to do two to three sets of 10-15 repetitions to start before increasing the number. If you get comfortable with the load, use additional weight to increase resistance.

Are you still experiencing foot pain? Book an appointment with us at Feet First Clinic online or by calling us at 416.769.3338(FEET).

Best Socks For Your Feet That Won’t Break The Bank

You already have the shoes. Now for the next most important piece of gear for your feet: socks.

Socks are your first line of defense when it comes to blisters and other foot problems. You wear them during the toughest conditions including heat and during exercise. Plus, they’re on your feet for hours on end. So, you’re best off choosing a comfortable pair that are built to last.

Below we round up some popular athletic socks for when you exercise.

Darn Tough

Darn Tough are premium Merino wool socks that go the distance. Each of their products are guaranteed for life. A personal favourite is the Vertex 1/4 Ultra-Light (ankle-length). The Ultra-Light is the perfect height of a sock and the material is thin but also withstands “tougher than hell” conditions. Ankle length cuts are perfect for winter when you’re wearing long tights since it eliminates exposed skin.

Injinji

Injinji, known as toe socks, are the most fascinating brand featured on this list. The unique approach to socks, in part because each toe is isolated from each other, helps prevent blisters while “while freeing them [toes] to splay and align naturally for better comfort and feel.” Their socks come in a variety of heights including hidden, no-show, micro, mini-crew, crew, and over the half, as well as in various materials depending on the purpose, whether that’s trail running or as a liner. Our personal recommendation is the Run Lightweight No-Show.

Lululemon

As Lululemon continues to go all-in on running, the Vancouver-based athletic brand continues to put out stellar accessories. Lululemon’s socks, which can be described as thinner and softer than many other running socks, are offered in primarily no-show length for women. For men, there are a few other options if you’re into the higher cut (which to mention can be good for trail running when there’s harsher terrain and brush). You can purchase a three-pack for as low as $28.

Smartwool

Smartwool is known as the Merino wool brand. The outdoors-focused brand makes some of the best socks you can find including the PhD Run Light Elite Low Cut Socks, which are made of 52% Merino wool, a natural fibre made from Merino sheep. The material is super soft, cancels out odour, and is perfect for all-around conditions in Canada including in the summer and winter. The way it does this? The fibre helps regulate body temperature by adjusting to the surrounding conditions. Smartwool also offers men’s- and women’s-specific fits.

Stance

There are few trendier apparel companies right now than Stance, and they’re dominating the athletic sock market as a whole. Widely available at stores across Canada, Stance socks are accessible to all runners. The Uncommon Run Tab is a favourite among wearers as they’re lightweight and fit just right based on the contours of your feet. The Uncommon Run Tab also has a nice “tab” on the heel providing additional coverage. At $20 a pair, Stance is on the pricier side among socks but don’t be skipping out on costs when it comes to socks when you’re spending $100+ on footwear.

Balega

You’ll be pressed to find better socks than Balega. They feature moisture-wicking fabric, ultralight material, blister resistance thanks to natural mohair wool, and they’re odour-free. Balega is a household name in the running industry and trusted across the board for being a top-notch sock. Each sock comes with a contoured fit and deep heel pocket as well as ventilation pockets for breathability. We recommend the Balega Enduro Quarter for your sock needs.

Drymax

As the name suggests, Drymax aims to keep your feet drier than leading competitors. Minimizing moisture within your shoes is essential when trying to prevent chafing and blisters. For that reason, Drymax is one of the best in the business. Try the Maximum Protection Running Sock if you experience blisters on a regular basis and are looking for a premium product. The material is soft and the length is just right, reaching just above the ankle.

Steigen

Steigen socks are designed for high-performance athletes. But just because they’re meant for the pros, doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t benefit from the no-blister, breathable and low moisture socks. The lightweight socks come in a variety of cuts so it feels like you’re wearing nothing at all. For those looking to brighten up their wardrobe, go with the half-length eye-popping Fluro Red Running Socks.

Feetures

Backed by a lifetime guarantee, you know Feetures last you for hundreds, if not thousands of kilometres. Feetures mixes targeted compression, a seamless toe, and super soft fabric to create the perfect athletic socks. What’s particularly great about Feetures is that there are multiple categories for different purposes. From performance-based to plantar fasciitis relief to everyday usage, there are plenty of different styles and purposes that Feetures covers. Go for the Elite Light Cushion Quarter if you’re looking for a nice balance of comfort and cushion.

You can find a selection of socks and get a feel for them yourself in person at Feet First Clinic at 2481 Bloor St W. We’re open 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

8 Races To Run This Summer In The Greater Toronto Area

Summer is the hottest time of year on the Toronto running scene – in every sense.

With a race just about every weekend, there are as many options as one could hope for within the city itself, as well in surrounding areas of the GTA and beyond. You can escape the inner core of Toronto by racing in the suburbs or on the trails, or you can race downtown and experience what it’s like to run on deserted streets that are typically packed with vehicles.

June 21, the first day of summer, is quickly approaching. If you’re still in the planning stage of figuring out your summer schedule, this list of eight reputable and well-organized races is a good start.

Below are our picks, in chronological order, of events within the GTA.

June 22 – Pride and Remembrance Run

One of Toronto’s most beloved road races is the Pride and Remembrance Run, a 5K which takes place during Pride Month and a day before the Pride Parade. The race begins at Church and Wellesley and heads east for two loops of Queen’s Park before returning to where you started. The race, now sponsored by local retailer BlackToe Running, is offering medals to all participants this year and even has its own beer called fab! lite.

July 1 – GGS Law Canada Day 5K

What better way to kick off Canada Day than with a road race. From the same organizers as the Chilly Half-Marathon comes a Canada Day celebration with a flat and fast out-and-back 5K in Burlington, Ont. The race is a short drive from downtown Toronto and runs along Lake Ontario during one of the nicest times of the year.

July 20 – MEC (Trail) Race Four

MEC offers the most affordable races of anyone in Canada and the race series comes with no frills. At just $20, the MEC Race Four (Trail) is a great introduction to off-road running in a low-key but well-organized environment. Kortright Conversation Centre provides an escape from city life just north of Toronto and the race includes a 7K and 12K on non-technical terrain.

July 28 – Beaches Jazz Run

Hosted by the Toronto Beaches Runners Club, the Beaches Jazz Run is another grassroots event that’s popular among the running community. Entry fees are on the pricier side ($55-$79 for the 5K and half-marathon) but the event is well run, there are multiple race kit pick-up locations – a must in Toronto traffic – and the course on the Martin Goodman Trail and on the Leslie Spit can’t be beaten.

August 24 – Toronto Women’s 10K/5K

The Toronto Women’s Run Series is the most popular women’s race circuit in the province, if not the country. The supportive and friendly environment is great for first timers and the event is held in the peaceful setting of Sunnybrook Park, relief from many of the city’s road races which are held on major roads. The 5K/10K on Aug. 24 is the second of three events the series hosts throughout the summer and fall.

September 8 – Longboat Toronto Island Run

Secluded on Toronto Island, just a minutes boat ride from the downtown core, the Longboat Island Run is a local favourite and often times a tune-up race for many runners pursuing a fall marathon. One of the best parts of the experience is riding the ferry to and from the island along with the hundreds of other runners. The course is extremely flat and a post-race BBQ is offered for all participants.

September 8 – B&O Yorkville Run

The B&O Yorkville Run, a truly premium running event, doubles as the national 5K road championships which attract the top runners to Toronto from across the country. Registration costs $125 + HST plus a $100 minimum fundraising donation for charity which is recovered from the extravagant race kit every participant receives: a duffle bag with a technical shirt, Barry’s Bootcamp class pass, a spa gift card for the St. Regis, and much more.

September 21 – Oasis ZooRun

Hosted by Canada Running Series, the top running circuit in the country, the Oasis ZooRun features a challenging but unique course through the Toronto Zoo. Run past exotic wildlife and take on the undulating hills during the 5K and 10K on the final summer weekend of 2019.

Gearing up for a summer race? Visit Toronto’s Feet First Clinic for the latest footwear and much more.

Signs You Need A New Pair Of Shoes

Running/walking is a simple activity. There’s very little gear required.

Footwear is the exception. Shoes are your most important piece of gear, providing protection over the course of several hundred kilometres and helping lessen the impact and damage to your body. Most people go through a few pairs every year, and some even every month.

As you pile on the mileage, your shoe’s structure, and thus effectiveness, break down over time. Your shoes won’t feel the same out of the box as they do after 300-500 kilometres. It’s important to know when you need a new pair of shoes to help avoid injury and that starts with knowing what to look for in your footwear.

Below are some signs that your shoes could be due for an upgrade, and what to do to help lengthen their lifespan.

Culprit #1: A reduction in bounce as well as aches, pains, and sore joints.

Typically, running shoes can last between 500-750 kilometres. Over time, the cushioning breaks down and it no longer provides the same amount of energy return as it did right out of the box. If you feel your shoes are feeling flat, and don’t have that same type of bounce, it’s likely time for a new pair of shoes.

There are however ways to extend the lifespan of your shoes.

Try: purchasing two or three pairs of shoes at a time, and alternate use. Giving your shoes a day or two in between runs allows the cushioning to return to form, and lengthens its life. Purchasing in bulk can also be beneficial if your favourite shoe is discontinued or altered, which is commonplace as new iterations of models are released every year. Plus, bulk purchases can lead to lower shipping costs – per unit – if ordered online.

The type of shoe and amount of cushioning also plays a role. Minimalist shoes have less cushioning and thus you’ll feel the effects at a faster rate.

Your weight can also come into play. The heavier you are, the greater the load, and thus the quicker the foam cushioning will compress and break down.

As you can tell, there isn’t one reason why your shoes wear down over time but in fact many.

Culprit #2: Wrinkles across the foam on the mid-sole and heel of the shoe.

You may notice a shoe is breaking down by feel. Additionally, as is the case here, there are visual cues that make apparent the condition of your footwear. When your shoes’ foam begins to crease and wrinkle, it’s a sign that your shoes are beginning to age. However, this cycle is totally normal and doesn’t necessarily mean your shoes are toast.

Try: running on softer surfaces more often to alleviates the impacts that go through your shoes. Running on grass, gravel, and dirt is easier on your shoes – and your body – versus asphalt or concrete.

Culprit #3: Uneven wear patterns

Try: avoid wearing your running shoes casually throughout the day because added hours break down shoes at a faster rate. Your gait while walking is different than running too so you might be wearing your shoes out in unusual and unwanted patterns if you use your primary trainers as hybrids.

Uneven wear patterns are not necessarily a bad thing, but you should take them into account because it might be easier to troubleshoot an injury. Look for areas that are bare of tread like a car tire.

Culprit #4: Damaged heel counter and frayed edges.

The heel cup around your Achilles can break down, which can lead to chafing and blisters.

Try: avoiding tied laces when putting on and taking off your shoes. The laces are there for a reason. If you consistently slip your shoes on and off while tied, you’re likely adding more pressure to the heel counter and the inner material of the shoe. Tie and untie your shoes before and after each use.

Avoid using the dryer if your shoes get wet too as heat can break down the upper material as well as the cushioning of the shoe.

Culprit #5: Tears in the upper.

Look for rips around the toebox, as well as along the sides of your feet as that’s where the upper attaches to the midsole, leaving the seam vulnerable. To avoid blisters, and other foot problems, it’s important to find a shoe that fits right for the shape of your foot.

Try: changing to shoes that better suit you. These days, many brands offer wide versions of most models, and some brands are known for making wider shoes including Asics and Altra, both of which provide roomier a toe box compared to other brands.

Need help deciding on a pair of new shoes? Need a gait analysis done? Visit the clinic today.

Shoe terms you should know, explained

Invest in items that separate you from the ground, they say. Your bed, car/bike tires, and, of course, shoes. When it comes to selecting the right shoe, however, there can be a lot of (confusing) jargon associated with footwear, and feet in general as they pertain to shoes, from the type to the actual descriptions of a footwear’s construction and anatomy.

Familiarize yourself with all shoe jargon with this glossary of shoe terms.

15. HOW TO CHOOSE SHOES – INFO G

Running Mechanics

Gait: The way in which you run or walk. There are a number of primary descriptions including being a heel-striker, midfoot-striker or toe-striker, which specifies the first point of contact with the ground upon impact. Because people have varying gaits, there’s no one-size-fits-all shoe. Your pronation (see below for that explanation) is influenced by your gait.

Pronation: The side-to-side rolling movement of your foot when impacting the ground. Naturally, the foot has an inward-rolling motion, meaning you land on the outer part of your foot, and proceed to roll inwards until your foot is flat on the ground, before subsequent take-off.

Overpronation: The tendency to over-inward roll upon impact and through to take-off. You’re likely to see additional wear on the inner edge of your shoe’s cushioning.

Supination: The tendency to under-inward roll – in other words, to outward-roll – upon impact and through to take-off. You’re likely to see additional wear on the outer edge of your shoe’s cushioning.

Arch: Your arch is the curve of your foot that is either normal, high, or low. Often, you can determine whether you have flat feet or not through the use of a foot arch test, which involves wetting​ the bottom of your feet, and stepping on a piece of paper to see the outline of your foot. If you’re unsure, check out your local foot specialist shop like Feet First Clinic. 

 

Shoe Infrastructure

Upper​​: The material that wraps the foot and attaches to the midsole. This is the bulk of the shoe excluding the midsole and keeps your foot in place.

Overlay​​: The overlay is an additional layer of material on top of the upper. Overlays are useful for extra support, varying breathability and sometimes used to add a waterproof element to a shoe, like, for example, Nike’s “shield” running shoes which offer protection against rain and snow.

Eyelets​​: Shoelace holes.

Tongue​​: The tongue is the material that sits on top of your foot and under the sock laces non-slip-on shoes have a tongue.

Sock liner​​: The sock liner is the shoe’s inner material. The material is called a sock liner because it wraps around the foot like a sock. The material is often a few millimetres in thickness and can wear down and suppress over time, moulding to your foot.

Toe box​​: The area at the end of a shoe which houses your toes. The width of the toe box is particularly important for people depending on whether they have narrow or wide feet. Remember, the width of your foot is important too, and not just the length (size).

Drop/offset​​: Most shoes, besides Altra, have a drop greater than zero. The drop of the shoe is the difference in heel height versus toe height. If the shoe has a drop of 8 mm, for example, the heel is 8 mm higher than the height of the toe where the foot sits.

Outsole​​: The outsole, also known as the sole, is the base of the shoe and features treads and grips that are the shoe’s last line of defense between you and the ground.

Midsole​​: The midsole of a shoe is where the cushioning lies. Your foot sits on the midsole, separated by the in-sole (the removable sole inside your shoe), and provides the support you need. Often times, the midsole is made of ​Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA).

 

Shoe type

Stability​​: Mild pronators, or heavier-set runners, should consider stability footwear as the shoe doesn’t have as much support as a motion control shoe, but more than neutral footwear. Stability footwear often features extra support (called a medial post) on the inner side of the shoe side to prevent arch collapse.

Neutral​​: Shoes with neutral cushioning are built uniformly with no additional features to compensate for your gait/running pattern. Cushioning is often softer than motion control and stability footwear and is designed to absorb impact rather than correct running form. Regular pronators and supinators should consider neutral footwear.

Motion control​​: Motion control shoes are pretty self-explanatory; they’re designed to control the side-to-side range of motion of your gait. So, if you overpronate, motion control shoes have systems in place including stiffer heels and additional support on the inner medial side of the shoe to prevent additional inward roll beyond what is normal. Mild- to severe-overpronators should consider motion control shoes.

Orthotics​​: Custom insole inserts based on your feet designed to provide corrective measures to your running gait.

All these terms are good to know when deciding on a pair of shoes. For more in-person assistance, to have your gait analyzed, feet properly measured or to see if custom orthotics are right for you, check out Toronto’s Feet First Clinic on Bloor Street West. You can contact us at 416-769-3338(FEET).