Now, let’s get into some research behind some of my well earned belief system. One article (1) noted a significantly reduced joint excursion and reduced joint stiffness while running barefoot vs. running with shoes. Increased joint stiffness is associated with increased injury risk. Another article (2) “The sole of the foot is a highly innervated structure, second only to the palm of the hand for density of mechanoreceptors.” What this should remind us of is that if we wear a protective, restrictive shoe we inhibit necessary feedback to the surrounding musculature that is essential for stabilizing the foot, ankle, leg, knee, hip etc.
Yet another example of research on running shoes; “Runners wearing top-of-the-line trainers are 123% more likely to get injured than runners in cheaper shoes.” This was discovered as far back as 1989, according to a study led by Dr Bernard Marti, the leading preventative-medicine specialist at Switzerland’s University of Bern. Or, 1991 report in Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise that found that “wearers of expensive running shoes that are promoted as having additional features that protect (eg, more cushioning, ‘pronation correction’) are injured significantly more frequently than runners wearing inexpensive shoes.” Makes you want to run out and buy those $140 Asics Kayano’s doesn’t it?!
Ok, so you are now wondering where I stand on how to prescribe a running shoe or what I would suggest a runner to wear aren’t you? Here is what I would start with; Determine what type of runner you are. I do not mean if you are a “pronator” or a “supinator” but rather how much time and energy are you planning on putting into your running? Are you willing to make necessary changes to how you move by performing drills, stability exercises, and running more frequently or are you simply planning on heading out the door with your trusty new kicks and hitting the pavement ASAP? If you are willing to do the work required to move more efficiently I would suggest that you go with as little shoe as you can get away with. If you are starting with running in orthotics and a motion control shoe I would NOT, I repeat, would NOT go home and throw away your insoles but rather I would perhaps wean yourself off away from using orthotics as much. You can do this by trying to use your orthotics in a neutral shoe for a few minutes during a run and finish the run in your ‘normal’ shoe. Gradually increase your time in the neutral shoe with the orthotic until all of your runs are in the neutral shoe. This should take weeks to months to accomplish… not days. At that time you may try to walk around your home in slippers instead of your supportive shoes and then gradually build to walking barefoot more often. Then, move to a lightweight trainer with the orthotic then to no orthotic at all then, if possible, to a racing flat. What’s the goal here? To develop the intrinsic muscles of the feet, muscles of the leg, that lead into the feet and improve proprioception of the foot and hence improved mechanics during running gate. Aha! He’s on to something!
If you are not willing to make changes to how you move etc. head to a local specialty running store and have the associate walk/run you through a fitting procedure. At best they will have you run on a treadmill and even perhaps video-tape you doing so. Second best they may watch you walk (yes, walk only) outside or just in the store and develop a theory as to what shoe may be able to control or assist with the motion of your foot. You may try custom fit orthotics at $400/set or for a more affordable option try an over the counter insole first like Superfeet, ALine, or Spenco. And, to be perfectly honest, in a 1999 article (3) in the journal “Foot and Ankle” reports that for treatment of plantar fasciosis/’itis’ if you prefer, an over the counter insert/insole brought about better results than a rigid custom orthotic device. Obviously, you can perhaps tell where my bias is on this subject matter… the evidence is just too overwhelming to the contrary!
With all of this being said, keep things simple. Running should be fun. Remember!? Running is one activity that can be done anywhere and essentially any time. We do however have to realize that like any other athletic endeavor it may take time to develop, work on and to master one’s running technique and with that shoe selection may vary based on skill level and level of determination to become faster and injury free.
*this article re-posted from www.CoachDeRoche.com