Which Shoe Should I Run In??

October 10, 2017

Eighty -two percent of runners get injured. That statistic should get your attention especially when there are 45 million Americans who run. That’s a lot of unnecessary hurting going on. A combination of things can lead to injury including over training, muscle imbalances, joint restrictions, or improper foot wear.

Does what we wear or not wear on our feet matter? Opinions on foot wear have been changing over the years with a fair bit of confusion leaving many runners scratching their heads and wondering what to do.

The foot has 26 bones, 19 muscles, 107 ligaments, and 33 joints. Then add in the need for neuromuscular control of 3-4x our body weight 1000x per mile. The arch is trying to absorb shock and the big toe is trying to get down to the ground to provide a majority of the foot’s support. How can we best allow this to happen optimally to improve performance and decrease risk of injury?

It used to be that if a runner went to buy shoes they were categorized into either being an over pronator, supinator, or neutral foot runner and given the matching shoe. Research shows that assigning shoes based on arch type doesn’t improve performance or decrease injury.

What is being shown now is the importance of letting the foot be the foot. This means looking for a shoe that is THIN with enough protection against rocks and other debris; FIRM with just enough midsole to optimize proprioception in the foot and minimize work of the foot; and LIGHT for efficiency.

How do you know if you need to get a different type of shoe? If you are running injury or pain free and are satisfied with your performance then there is no need to switch. If you are experiencing some nagging symptoms then you might want to consider gradually changing to more minimal shoes starting with half the distance of your current shoe drop.

But don’t forget, no matter what shoe you have on keep working on pelvic /hip stability( see PTOSI blog 9-21-17)  and core foot control and /or mobility.

Reference: Anatomy For Runners, P 113-142, Jay Dicharry, SKyhorse Publishing, New York, NY

Article Written by Eric Polson, PT, DPT, ATC