Friday, March 4, 2011

The Importance of Shoes

erezWhen I first started running, my knees killed me.  I’ve been through three knee braces trying to find the right support for when I run.

Then, I realized it might be my shoes.

Two weeks ago, I went to two different stores that were recommended to me by friends.  The first was the New Balance store.  It has this cool computerized foot analysis thing.  (Yes, that’s the official name.  *ahem*)  I don’t know if all the stores have them, but I highly recommend, if you have a New Balance store nearby, call and find out if they have it

I stood on this platform and it created a computerized image of my feet, showing my foot size from heel to toe, whether I had a high, low, or neutral arch, and my pressure points.  The biggest thing that came out of that was that I discovered I’ve been wearing the wrong size shoe for most of my life – a half-size to a full-size too small!

Then, I went to a local store that specializes in all things running.  There, the highly-experienced clerk visually analyzed my step and made some suggestions.  One of the biggest things I took from that trip was that I should almost feel that I’m not wearing shoes.  My toes should be able to move about inside the toe box as if I were barefoot.

Both places were a little pricey for what I could afford at this stage in the game (but I do have cards with my favorite shoe’s product numbers for later), so I went to the local sporting goods store, armed with new information, and started trying on shoes.  I wound up with a pair of reasonably-priced Saucony running shoes a full size larger than what I’d been wearing.

Since I got my new shoes, I’ve not worn a knee brace once and I haven’t had any pain in my knees.  I guess it could be that the muscles and tendons are strengthening, but that seems too coincidental to me.

So, my advice to you is, if you’re running and having knee trouble, I would strongly  encourage investing in a well-fitting, quality pair of running shoes.  It’s made a world of difference with me.

8 comments:

  1. It's like you've read my mind! LOL. I'm getting ready to do a whole blog post all about shoes & running and MOST IMPORTANTLY ~ foot strike.
    The more neutral the shoe, the better. When they told you it should feel like you are running barefoot, they meant all over the foot, not just the toes. Minimal (to none) arch support and a large toe box are imperative.
    Also, make sure you are not running with your foot out in front of you striking your heal first. You do NOT want to go heal-toe, heal-to. That will kill your knees & hips.
    Keep your stride short, with your feet under your center of balance and land almost flat footed. Striking with your mid foot.
    New Balance has a great video on their website that describes the proper running gait.
    And have fun running! It's highly addictive! :)

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  2. You should come north sometime for a visit. There is a New Balance factory in the next town over. Every August they hold a "tent sale" with some amazing prices plus there is the factory outlet store. ;-)

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  3. Hey Kris - thanks for sending me to this blog. I've been inspired by your running and I've signed up for my first 5K this summer, doing some slow and steady training. Yesterday, I bought my first pair of running shoes because I was experiencing outer knee and ankle pain. I found a great little running apparel and shoes store and they helped fit me with a brand new running shoe, and I'm hoping this helps. They also suggested some good stretches for my IT band area, which could also be the cause of my knee pain. But...I'm feeling empowered with my new running shoes today! :)  Thanks for writing all of this down for new runners like me! :)  ~liz (@smithical)

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  4. I am so excited to read that, Liz! I hope you learn to love running as much as I do. I love going to our local running store. They're a bit more expensive than some of the bigger chain stores, but it's so nice to talk to people who actually know what they're talking about and who have a passion for the sport. I hope you see an improvement in the pain with good shoes and some exercises. I'm betting that you do.

    You'll have to let me know when it's time for your first 5K so I can wish you luck and, of course, you'll have to let me know how you do.

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  5. thank, kris!  this morning's run in my new pair of running shoes, after a good stretch was AMAZING. i could have run/walked a few more laps around the track except for the fact that it was pouring and i was getting really chilled. i am amazed how quickly i'm recovering from a run, and i love the "runner's high" i have post-run. thanks again for your encouragement!  ~liz

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  6. That is so exciting! I was telling my husband about you last night. I told him I felt like I'd birthed another runner. ;-) It's a very exciting feeling. The sense of accomplishment after a run is what drives me, I think.

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  7. You went to two individual experts who spent the time to educate you on proper shoe structure and body biomechanics enough so that you no longer needed a knee brace, then you rewarded them by purchasing at a lower priced store? Nice! No wonder the world is full of Walmarts.

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  8. Sometimes we have to do what we're financially able to do. My second pair of shoes came from the running store that helped fit me the first time. I was in a better position to spend more money on a sport that, by that time, I was sure I would stick with.

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