One of the biggest roadblocks for any kind of workout is the fear of getting injured. I mean, think about it, you could pull a muscle while lifting weights, you could bust a knee while running, fall down while speeding on a cycle, or get your nose broken while trying boxing.
But the key to injury prevention is to properly learn the technique for any sport or workout move that you’re trying. Go slow, if required, but get the form correct. Apart from this, remember that wearing the correct pair of shoes for your activity also helps eliminate chances of picking up an injury. So here’s looking at some cool new releases of 2021 that can help you correct your technique.
Convert heel strike to forward motion
When I run, I tend to land on my heels. I have been trying hard to correct this because it puts undue stress on my knees and ankles. While certain drills have made it better, what also helps is wearing a pair of running shoes that take the stress away from my knees and ankles. Adidas’ newest offering, the 4DFWD Pulse, is great in this regard. It comes with a 3D printed midsole and the brand believes this helps those who, like me, have a heel strike. The launch release itself explains this best: “The shoe is coded for a smooth run with the 4DFWD heel angled to increase impact absorption, working together with the EVA midsole. This unique design translates into a smooth heel transition at the moment of touchdown.”
Adidas has been working with Carbon for four years by collating athlete data and Carbon’s Digital Light SynthesisTM technology to produce 3D printed midsoles. For this pair, the midsole has a lattice structure (which adidas says is one of five million possible structures). This bowtie-shaped FWD CELL is able to compress forward upon vertical impact. “As compared to previous generations of 4D midsole, adidas 4DFWD generates three times as much forward motion under vertical loading in mechanical testing conditions”, says the release. Which means if you plant your feet from top, as a heel or midfoot striker would do, the shoes use the tech to propel you forward. Result? Better energy return, greater speeds and less injury.
Now, are there any drawbacks? Well, the shoes are slightly heavy on the feet. That means while they can be used for daily short runs, they should not be your choice for a long run, or even a super fast one. Just the regular 5-10 km at an easy pace should be good. They also have a pretty high midsole drop, 21.2 mm under the forefoot and 32.5 mm under the heel. These have the same upper as the Ultraboost 21s, made from Primeknit+. This helps them stay comfortable even if the wearer’s feet have expanded over a tiring run.
Adidas 4DFWD Pulse
₹15,999; available at shop.adidas.co.in
Greater stability for overpronation
Shoes that provide heel stability are important so that you retain balance upon landing and not twist your ankle. A twisted ankle is a horrible end to any run and it can take days, or even weeks, to recover. This is why the Asics Gel Kayano 28 remains a great buy. The Gel Kayano series is a trusted one from Asics, but the latest iteration has its dynamic duomax technology to correct overpronation when your feet roll inward after touching the ground. This can cause flat foot, knee and back pain, corns and callouses.
Think of it as landing on the outside of your foot and automatically correcting that by rolling your foot inwards, towards the big toe. Repeated over and over it can cause extra stress on the ankle, and make running difficult. An easy way to check it is to inspect the outsole of your shoes. Are they faded or worn out more on the outside than inside? Then you are overpronating. If they are more worn out on the inside, you are under-pronating. In an ideal situation the wear should be equal.
What I did like about the Asics is that the strings do not come off at all (I am tired of tying it up mid-run, or having to make double knots) thanks to a really thick tongue. While the shoes have ample space near the toe (they fits true to size), the heels feel a little loose. Which means, your heels can keep moving inside the shoes, and lead to blisters. The outsoles are great, and I experienced no slipping while running on slightly muddy tracks. The insoles have been updated with thick ortholite inserts, that are more comfortable for those long slow runs.
Asics Gel Kayano 28
₹14,999; available at asics.com/in
Finding the perfect balance
In the gym you perform a bit of cardio (say runs, cycles, burpees, jump ropes) and a bit of weight training (shoulder press, squats, deadlifts). But for these two sets, you will need very different types of shoes. While cardio shoes would need to be cushioned to minimise the impact of all the jumps and turns you take, lifting shoes will need to be extra stable so that you don’t twist even an inch while supporting any weight. The wrong shoes, coupled with poor technique can be disastrous. Think of squatting while wearing running shoes while your technique isn’t that great either. If your knees curve inwards while you are coming out of a squat, the soft cushioning on the shoes will actually bend to make that worse. When that happens, you will probably drop the weight as your knees will buckle further and not let you get up straight.
The Under Armour Project Rock 3 are shoes that can fulfil both functions. They use the HOVR technology from the brand, which conserves energy return and minimises impact. Like the earlier versions, this pair too uses the UA Tribase, a triangular design that offers extra support for jumps and also makes the shoes stable when you’re lifting. I like the knit bootie design which means I could easily slip them on and off and was equally comfortable without socks. While they do use the HOVR foam, these can’t really be called running shoes. That does not mean you cannot run in them during your workouts. Just make sure you keep the runs short. I have done 800mtrs a few times in these and they felt much more comfortable than any other training shoes.
Now, the best part is that they come with a stability chassis. Imagine all the lifts you can do with these, without worrying about slipping or not holding on to the posture. The 8mm heel to toe drop actually felt even great on the gym rower, where that drop helped to keep my feet nearly flat. There is enough traction in the forefoot of the shoes for me to even do box jumps and heavy barbell movements.
Under Armour Project Rock 3
₹13,999; available at underarmour.net.in