By Sean Jones PT, DPT, CSCS
It might be tempting to lace up whatever sneakers you have on hand, head outside, and start your run. But training in any old pair of shoes is never a good idea. In fact, running in the wrong shoes can be painful, or even cause injury. Your shoes absorb a lot of shock with every stride, and without the right shoe to absorb that shock, your run can take a toll on your body. Here are three common mistakes runners make when it comes to choosing and maintaining their footwear, and how to avoid making those mistakes.
Remember: It’s not always about the shoe. You might think it’s the shoe causing you problems, but that’s not always the case. For example, many people train on treadmills, but treadmills are not natural. A treadmill pulls the foot into extension during stance phase on it’s own, thus not engaging normal hip extensor reflexes and knee drive, which drives poor running form. Most people also change their Center of Mass (COM) on a treadmill, causing them to run too upright. Treadmills should be used sparingly, and I would argue the cold days or rainy days should be used for cross training. Runners need it!
I also often see runners change their pace based on their distance. For example, I’ve heard runners say “I usually run 8:30 mile for my normal distance days, but now that I’m training for a marathon I’m running at a 10:00 mile pace.” Don’t slow down! Slowing your pace and increasing your mileage can modify your form. Your normal running cadence is neurological and should not be altered due to increased mileage goals. Instead, train up to the mileage at your standard pace.
Have the wrong shoes slowed you down? Our doctors of physical therapy can perform a run gait analysis to check your movement and form, then assign corrective exercises to fix any faulty movement patterns and boost your performance. Call or stop in one of our locations to make an appointment.