Spend Less Time on Injury Recovery: Focus on Your Running Shoes

Sep 20, 2017

Tony Heywood

by Tony Heywood
PT, MPT | Ahwatukee Location

Many runners think the best way to avoid time spent on injury recovery is investing in a high dollar shoe a close friend or running guru has recommended to them. Often, that means buying the newest “it” shoe. Roll bars, thrust enhancers, and microchips: the running industry wants us to think that their new technology will prevent injury or make us faster. In fact, they’re counting on it.
Over 46 million pairs of shoes were sold last year, making the shoe companies over three billion dollars, so it looks like the marketing is working. However, despite these claims proclaiming the technology is best ever, 65 to 80 percent of all runners suffer an injury each year. If the technology is improving in running shoes then why is there such a high number of injuries each year?
Before the invention of the modern running shoe in 1972, runners needed and had strong feet because they would run in thin-soled shoes. As you can guess, the strength in their feet resulted in a lower rate of injuries than what we see today. “A lot of foot and knee injuries plaguing us are by people running with shoes that actually make our feet weak, cause us to over-pronate and give us knee problems,” says Dr. Daniel Lieberman, a professor at Harvard University.
Not convinced? Did you know that an arch is one of the strongest weight-bearing designs ever invented? Guess what? Your foot’s centerpiece is the arch and it gets its strength by applying force from the top down, not from underneath. So, when you wear a cushy shoe, you are actually weakening the foot. A weak foot means an increased chance of injury.
Of course, the shoe companies wouldn’t want you to know that. As a runner myself, and after seeing many runners at the clinic, I can safely say there are no shoes that are the best because each person is different. For example, I don’t do well in Nike or New Balance shoes, but I’ve seen other runners who prefer these brands. Furthermore, never assume the shoe with the higher price tag is the better shoe.
When shopping for running shoes, don’t go to a big box store. Instead, go to a local running shoe store. The big box stores don’t have the knowledge that your local running store has. We recommend SOLE SPORT. This locally owned shop features a runner-hobbyist sales staff that can offer first-hand advice and fit you with proper shoes. Additionally, they have a great return policy; they want you to be happy with your shoes.
In my years of running 5ks to marathons, I’ve found a practice that helps me reduce the time I spend on injury recovery: getting three pairs of shoes and often rotating which pair I wear each time I run. I mark the shoes with a sharpie “1,” “2,” or “3” so I can keep them in order. Even if you are using the same model shoes for all three pairs, each shoe can be made just a little different. This difference will put your foot in different positions every time you run in a different pair, reducing the pounding on the same part of your foot because of the slight variation. While this practice will cost you a little more upfront, in the long run, your shoes will last longer and most importantly it can help prevent injury.
Come in and see us if you’re suffering from an injury or you’re looking to reduce the time you spend on injury recovery. We’d love to see you and are here to help. Contact us to schedule an appointment!

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