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5 Myths About Your Shoes and Feet

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5 Myths About Your Shoes and Feet

Running is hard enough, so don’t make it harder. Before you buy your next pair of running or walking shoes, read this. We’re here to bust some myths!

Myth #1: Preventing injury is a matter of finding the right shoe. No shoe magically prevents injury. More often, a change in shoe type results in more injuries, at least initially. And no one shoe is great for everyone. Recent research has demonstrated that with a change in shoes to either minimalist or maximalist shoes, injuries increase and reaction forces also increase. So, at the running store, run long enough to get a good feel for how the shoes work for you before you buy them.

Myth #2: Shop for shoes based on your foot type. Most running stores will tell people who pronate that they need a motion control shoe. They will tell people with high arches they need more cushioning in their shoe. Three large studies showed that matching footwear to foot type did nothing to prevent injuries. So, while you might be steered in one direction based on your foot type, it’s more important to find shoes that fit well and feel good. It’s especially important that they are not too small. Small or tight shoes decrease blood flow to the foot and increase chances of plantar fascia and tendon pathologies.

Myth #3: Running shoes decrease running efficiency. Shoes add weight to your feet, and adding weight demands energy. But when CU researcher, Rodger Kram, evaluated running efficiency of experienced barefoot runners running in lightweight shoes vs. unshod, he found running barefoot increased energy consumption 4% with each step. The research team surmised that shoes provide a degree of cushioning, and without shoes, leg muscles contract to create the same cushioning effect, raising the metabolic cost.

Myth #4:  To heal from Plantar Fascia or heel pain, never go barefoot.   This is complicated. According to a recent study, you can alleviate PF pain most quickly by strengthening the foot and calf. And you can do that by walking around in minimal shoes or no shoes at all, to strengthen the small foot muscles, called intrinsics. That works better and faster than stretching.

Myth #5 You need to pay a lot to get the best running experience. Running shoes are expensive, but don’t be overly impressed with the bells and whistles of the most expensive shoes in the store – they won’t necessarily make running easier or better.

When you pick a running shoe:

  • Make sure you have your foot measured and err on the side of the bigger shoe.
  • Go in the afternoon when your feet are likely bigger.
  • Wear the socks you use to run when you try on shoes.
  • Take the time to try different shoe styles and see what feels best.

And if you switch from a motion control shoe to a minimal shoe or maximal shoe, take it slow. Successful transition requires preparation with foot and calf strengthening, a change in your running form, and a very gradual transition, over weeks or months.

A run analysis would also be a good idea. Just because you change shoes does not mean you’ll automatically change your running form. To avoid injuries, you might need guidance. ALTA therapists are trained in run analysis and will help you go stronger and longer without pain. We are here to help. Call on us!

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