By Red Hammer Rehab / August 31, 2022

Running Shoes part II

the complicated factors to finding your best fit. The key is comfort right away

OK team!! I know you have been SO eagerly awaiting what happens to our protagonist, the shoe, from last week’s episode! So without further ado…
Let me start with this recent research article that came across my feed this summer 2022:
Key take home summary for those that want the answer right away:
"In the absence of a clearly supported paradigm, we propose that in general clinicians should recommend footwear that is lightweight, comfortable, and has minimal pronation control technology".

Then just this week this Cochrane review came out:
A cochrane review ranks among the best level of evidence one can get as theyscour ALL articles related to the topic and have strict criteria for what makes a good, unbiased, reliable study. Their take home? 
Most evidence demonstrates no reduction in lower‐limb running injuries in adults when comparing different types of running shoes. Overall, the certainty of the evidence determining whether different types of running shoes influence running injury rates was very low to low, and as such we are uncertain as to the true effects of different types of running shoes upon injury rates.

So, take this onfo in, but remember to try on stuff and see what feels most comfortable. Then be smart about how much you ramp up the training, as that seems to have much more correlation to running injuries :)

3 main kinds of road shoes:

  • Neutral: for someone whose foot does not pronate very much, usually has a little more cushion/ shock absorption. You might fit this shoe if a picture from behind shows your Achilles tendon goes straight and your heel below it goes straight as well. 
  • Stability: for someone who pronates a little more than we want. (pronation is when you tend to weight bear more on the inside of your foot. Wear out the inside of the bottom of your shoe) Usually has a section on the inside, close to the heel/ under the ankle that has slightly more dense foam vs. the rest of the shoe. You might fit this shoe if your Achilles come straight down, but your heel bone seems to point out away from your body when you stand barefoot
  • Motion control: this shoe looks like a rounded off brick from underneath, with little separation between the forefoot and heel. It is designed for those that either heavily pronate or supinate (supinate= most of the weight is on the outside of your foot)

How long are shoes good for?
  • Most shoes will do well for between 300 and 500 miles. I recommend switching at LEAST at 500 miles, OR 6 months. This is a BARE minimum recommendation. 3-4 months is more likely if you are running consistently, and your shoes mileage will probably be in that window of 300-500 miles. I do fully recognize the cost that shoes can be these days, so definitely choose what fits that budget. Do consider that if bad shoes leads to even just 2 sessions at Red Hammer, that is already more than the cost of a new pair of shoes, so it can save you $ and emotional/ mental health of still running to spend a little more up front if you can.
  • You can often just tell that a shoe feels “dead” or not as soft or springy as it used to when it is getting close to the end of it’s time of serving you well. You may also notice certain slight aches that you body gets and when you get a new pair of shoes those go away. The more you can notice this, the more quickly you can identify when a shoe is ready to be replaced. 300-500 miles is a pretty big window and one never knows which end of that spectrum a shoe is going to last.

What do I do with my old shoes?
  • Save one pair for putting screws or spikes in for winter traction.
  • Use them for any around the house or town use you want
  • When they really are done, or you have no need for saving a retired pair of runners, take them to a local shoe store, like Shoes & Brews. They will have a bin for collecting old shoes that will be sent off to be recycled/ repurposed

What about the new carbon/ nylon plate shoes?
  • These shoes definitely have science behind them to show they can make you faster. What I cannot say for shoe is which pace groups will see this play out, and which will not. Consider an aerodynamic time trial bike helmet vs. the standard road bike helmet. Studies seem to show that if you are not riding faster than 20 mph on the bike, you are not going fast enough to see the benefits. This is purely speculation on my part, but there is probably a pace where this plays out on plated shoes as well. 
  • These shoes are for RACING. They really are not designed to be an everyday trainer. They wear out a lot faster than the classic 300-500 mile range, and are expensive. Wear them for speedy track sessions, and an occasional tempo run so you know how they will feel on race day, and then wear them on race day. I suggest they won’t help much after about 2-3 hours total race time
  • Pay attention to how your body feels in them. You may be totally fine, but there is a small set of people whose body does not like these. I think it is kind of like being on a diving board… the spring of the diving board definitely helps the jump off the board, but the board is still stiffer than soft ground, and the small mechanics of your foot feel this.

Finally, a word about inserts:
  • Going back to the neutral vs. stability foot types above, you also have different arch shapes. The extremes can be seen with a wet footprint test: 1) you see a definite heel bone, a very skinny line on the outside of the footprint, then a definite set of forefoot and toe marks. The other end of the spectrum 2) almost a wet, rounded off brick.
  • Many with the rounded off brick look (an arch that drops into a flat foot) do well with an insert to help support the arch. Do NOT get one that is too aggressive, as this will likely irritate your arch.
  • “But I got these good stability shoes at the store, isn’t that enough?” Take that insert that comes in the shoe out. Put your pinky on the “arch” and push down… if your pinky can flatten that, what do you think multiple times your bodyweight will do? I like to say “you can have a burger, or you can have fries. Many have a burger and fries, but you don’t HAVE to have both. You may only need an insert to help the arch but otherwise have neutral mechanics, or you may have a good arch that does not need support, but your heel still pronates and could use a stability shoe.
  • What about custom orthotics/ inserts? Studies repeatedly show that 80-90% of people will do well with an over the counter insert. This will save you a lot of $. One of the biggest shortcomings of custom is that they are molded while you stand still. Place a hand along your arch and lift your big toe like it would go when you are toeing off when running. Feel that “string” that pushes down? If you have a rigid arch support that was custom molded to your standing arch, it is not going to have some give for that tissue to push down.
  • My current 2 favorite options of over the counter inserts if you are going to try some:
Superfeet Run comfort line:
Curex runpro line (I really like the option to get a low or medium profile arch):
Ok squad, let me know if there was anything you felt you wanted to know about shoes that did NOT get covered in these last 2 weeks :) And, as always, let me know how we can keep making RevRun even awesomer!

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