Every step starts with your feet! How well our feet contact with the ground surface has a large impact on our ability to move efficiently and effectively in sport and daily life. Every time we take a step our bodies must absorb and mitigate the energy that is generated by our foot contacting the ground. This is known as ground reaction force (GRF) and plays a big role in our ability to move around.
GRF varies depending on the speed at which we move, the surface and also our individual biomechanics. It is a complicated formula, however, walking produces less GRF than running, but running has less contact time with higher peak forces. Ideally what we need to do is minimize the GRF as best we can, and the best ways to do this is to ensure that our technique is optimal and also that our feet are well supported and comfortable for the particular activity.
Wearing the right footwear is essential across the age groups, with it being equally important for kids, adults and seniors. For kids and teenagers, supportive footwear will help prevent injury as their musculature develops. Everyone has their own biomechanical patterns, so choosing the right footwear for activities is crucial. It is surprising, however, to see how many adults are walking or running around in the wrong shoes, resulting in vulnerable ankles, knees and hips and sending injury risk into the stratosphere. For seniors, footwear can also impact falls risk, which is a key factor in their ongoing mobility and activity levels.
For kids and teenagers, correct footwear should be the number one priority in sports and activities. The growing body has unique biomechanical patterns that change as strength improves with development. Wearing the correct footwear will help support and stabilize growing legs, minimize injuries and also support healthy movement patterns.
Take a moment to watch the video below, with the exact same athlete wearing two different pairs of shoes! It will really help illustrate how shoes can change stress on the body as it strikes the ground, and mitigates those forces up the leg and into the pelvis. 3D biomechanical analysis is common in professional sports, with sports scientists constantly attempting to improve performance and reduce injury. However, for junior athletes ensuring that they are in the right footwear can be a key factor in supporting their movement and sports performance.
A junior athlete who sustains repeat injuries reduces their risk of reaching their peak potential. It is therefore essential to consider every aspect that can improve their safety as they grow and work on their sports skills and techniques. Choosing the right shoes is now even easier with many shoe stores having a video screening process to assess suitability.
Never underestimate the importance of your feet. They keep you moving so keep them comfortable and they will continue to do their job efficiently in return. Keep them happy and you will maintain your health with efficient and fun activities.