Friday, July 15, 2011

I'll Discard the Shoes and Keep the Feet

The other day I realized how many months I have been running in my Mizuno Wave Rider 14s. I asked Jenn, my lovely wife, if I purchased them right after Christmas. She said, “yes.” Yikes! I have never worn a pair of running shoes so long. Because I log my miles, I immediately went back and calculated how many miles I put on these bad boys. As it turned out, they experienced more than...

 900 miles of road, dirt, and mud. A good friend of mine who is an experienced, knowledgeable runner who works in a running store told me to get rid of them ASAP! Yeah, you know who you are.
I know, the heals are worn too much.
Many articles recommend replacing running shoes every 300-550 miles. I have always based my replacement indicator on how much tread is missing from the shoe. Don’t make the mistake I made with this last pair. Instead, base it on the mileage. The mid-soles degrade faster than the soles and you cannot visualize the mid-sole breakdown. There are other factors which determine how often to replace shoes: Running on the road, being heavier, and wearing them on a day-to-day basis as a general use shoe will likely result in an earlier visit to shoe heaven, or better yet, a donation box.
It's not recommended that you use your running shoe for anything other than running. Running shoes are specialized; you spend too much on them for general use. Get a generic, cheaper pair at Walmart, Kmart, or Payless Shoes for general use. Please don’t get your running shoes from one of these stores. Go to a running store so experienced people can help you.
Here is my question: If there is such an emphasis placed on getting rid of your shoes after x-amount of miles because the support deteriorates, then why can people run barefoot without pulverizing their bones and tissue? They don’t throw their feet out after 500 miles, do they? What a vision.
Here is a decent article which explains, to some extent, injury reduction using minimalist shoes.
In one study, a link was made between shoe cushioning, support and injury. When speaking about minimalist shoes, they said, "foot control seems to improve as cushioning is lost and foot control accounts for at least half of running shoe-related injuries." In theory this makes sense to me.

In 2010 it was found that forefoot and mid-foot strikes were more common in barefoot runners which may lead to fewer impact injuries.

And, by shielding the foot from the ground with excessive cushioning, you limit the foot’s ability to sense the ground. "The body reacts to the terrain through fine adjustments in balance and body position." A 1987 paper states, "The sensory insulation inherent in the modern running shoe appears responsible for the high injury frequency associated with running."

I’m sure we will see many more research done on cushioned versus non-cushioned shoes.

From what I gathered, if you use a minimalist shoe or run barefoot when running, our bodies’ gait adjusts so we are more likely to transition to more of a forefoot, mid-foot strike and our feet are more connected to the ground, therefore they adjust, leading to less injury.

Although my next shoe won’t be a Vibram, I am going to try to carefully transition to a lower healed shoe with less cushioning. My reason: I would love to move away from the bulky running shoe. They feel clumsy.

Let’s see how it goes.

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