Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's gotta be the shoes!

As someone who runs, and who makes it publicly known that I run (see twitter, facebook, this blog, etc.), I often hear from people phrases such as:
  • "I wish I could be a runner."
  • "Running hurts, why would you do that to yourself?"
  • "I tried running once... my shins hurt so bad I had to quit."
  • "I don't have the knees for running."
Oh, the shame! If these people only knew! Running doesn't hurt. Well, it doesn't hurt that much. Not if it's done right. And the first step is to GET THE RIGHT SHOES.

I'll tell folks this and they'll say "But I did! I went and got $150 running shoes!" And I'll ask where they bought them, and they'll say something like "Big 5" or "Sports Authority" or perhaps even, *gasp!* "the mall!"

Here's the thing... when you run, your foot goes through a certain motion called pronation. Pronating is the action of your foot's arch collapsing to absorb shock, your ankle rolling slightly inward, followed by the rolling outward as you push off with your toes. People pronate to varying degrees, based in part on how high the arch of the foot is. People with low arches tend to over-pronate, which can cause excessive stress on the ankle, shin bones and tendons, knee, and hip -- and various other muscles, tendons, and bones in that general area of the body. Fortunately, the running shoe companies have figured this out, and they now manufacture shoes specifically to counteract these biomechanics (big word, I know). These shoes are called stability shoes, because they provide extra support to keep the foot and ankle properly aligned while going through your natural gait motion.

I'm not going to go deeply into the different styles and purposes of running shoes here. The point here is to emphasize that until you have someone look at your foot who knows what they're looking for, you're very likely running in the wrong shoes for your foot, and that's what makes it hurt. If you need a stability shoe and you're in a neutral shoe -- or vise-versa, not to mention the intracacies of motion-control shoes, cushioned shoes, lightweight racing flats, etc. -- you are going to hurt yourself. So... GET THE RIGHT SHOES. And to do that, you need to go to your local running-specialty store so they can analyze your gait. Trust me here. I'm about to complete my third marathon and I've never had any significant running injury.

Feel free to email me or comment if you'd like more information on this topic. :)

1 comment:

merrymishaps said...

I have seen people ask for running shoe recommendations over Twitter a couple times.

I always reply that they need to go to a running store and be fitted properly!