Thursday, August 7, 2014

START WITH THE SHOES


Injuries are the nemesis of all runners.

In previous blogs I have opined about a runner's daily logbook and how it may be utilized to analyze, prevent, and speed up injury rehabilitation.

If you have sustained a running injury, or feel an injury coming on, don't panic; rather, start with the shoes.

First, NEVER allow your shoes to be excessively worn down. Not only does that mean that you can see the white of the midsole, but look for compression of the midsole, and if you can feel every pebble beneath your foot, buy a new pair of shoes immediately.

Above, I have offered a personal pictorial tutorial of footwear's role in injury rehabilitation.

In May 2013, I fell during a training run, suffering two torn tendons in my left hamstring. Rehabilitation has been long, arduous, and frustrating. My 7-minute a mile training pace ballooned to nearly 10-minutes a mile. What was most frustrating, however, was the strength deficit, which caused me to drag the leg and clip the toe as I ran, producing several abrupt meetings with the sidewalk. I feared a future fall may occur in front of oncoming traffic.

An examination of the three left shoes in the picture illustrates the progression I have experienced in the past few months, as, finally, strength and flexibility has returned to my gimpy limb.

The shoe to the far left was worn during my most horrid running workouts, approximately four months ago. The front inside of the toe is worn almost to the nylon. During any given workout I would scrape the toe numerous times, and was always prone to a fall.

The middle shoe still has an excessively worn toe, but check out how the heel has been shredded. My mobility increased during this period, and I began to follow through with my stride, my heel taking the brunt of the impact.

To the right is the shoe I am currently wearing. I'm still coming down hard on the heel, but the toe wear is minimal. I would say I have regained 75% of my stride, and I feel safe on my training runs now, with a fairly good chance of remaining vertical.

So when the family pressures you to throw away those old running shoes, remind them that your stinky old running shoes are valuable research and analytical tools. Check your wear pattern. Is the inside of your knee aching? Perhaps you pronate. Set your shoes in front of you. Look at the heels. If they lean inward,  you do pronate, and you should find a shoe that addresses that issue. If you smash the insole of your shoes, don't buy the feather-light shoes on the market. Believe me, you need the cushioning more that you need an ultra light shoe.

Beginning with the feet, the knees, hips, and lower back will feel the effects of excessively worn or improper running shoes. Do your research, do your analysis, but always start with the shoes.