By Red Hammer Rehab / August 31, 2022

Running Shoes part I

we "drop" the deets for our feets in this one

What’s up squad!! Hope you are really getting into the groove of the season at this stage. We have hit up one 3 week build with a week 4 recovery week, and this week we should be on or close to our next recovery week. I thought this might be a good time to chat about a subject that really tackles where the rubber meets the road… our shoes!
A  brief history: most running shoes before around 2010, most running shoes were built with a cushioned heel to absorb the shock of a heel strike that would presumably roll into the rest of the stride. This resulted in a shoe that had a heel that was thicker than the forefoot, leading to what is called “drop”. Drop, often listed in millimeters, is the difference in how high your heel is compared to your forefoot. When you are barefoot, you are at 0mm drop. When one is wearing a 1” high heel, they are in a 1” (roughly 22mm) drop. The majority of those pre 2010 shoes were at a 12mm drop.
Why this 2010 time frame you ask?
A misunderstood text: In 2009 Christopher McDougall wrote the now infamous book, “Born to Run”. I HIGHLY recommend the book! It is fascinating and describes how we as humans are the only species designed to run literally for days if we had to. But a few misconceptions came out of the book, most notably the following 2: 

  • Heel striking is bad!
  • We should all run in 0mm drop shoes like the native tribe featured in the book, or the man that wore the vibram 5 fingers shoes in the book (his name is Ted)

Why does drop matter? 
Drop changes how much your calf and Achilles stretch so that your heel can come flat on the ground. A lower drop= more stretch. This leads me to my personal, MOST important thing to know about your running shoes. This is because, changing your drop too drastically in one go can lead to increase in injury risk. That book was, and still is to some degree, some of the best business I, as a physical therapist, ever could have dreamed for. 
So, I encourage you to hop on the website of whatever brand of shoe you are currently running in, and look at the model you are wearing. Make sure you get the iteration correct as well, so if you are wearing the Saucony Peregrine version 12, don’t look at version 11, they might have changed the drop. Knowing the drop, whenever you go shopping for a new pair of shoes, DO NOT change more than 4mm drop at one time. Occasionally, going 6mm can be okay, especially if going UP in drop (i.e from a 4mm drop to a new shoes that is 10mm drop) as going UP is more forgiving.
There are other factors to consider when assessing your shoes, and these will be covered in next week’s email, but I find that the change in drop, especially just because one did not even know that was a thing, is the most common cause of a “new shoes may have caused my injury”.
Look for more deets on the kicks for the streets (or peaks) next week!

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