Are You Wearing the “Right” Running Shoes?

We see quite a few runners here at LeBauer Physical therapy, and one of the questions that they almost always ask is, “Am I wearing the right running shoes?”

Even our folks who are suffering from foot pain from hiking, standing a lot at work, or daily life ask this question. Since so many people ask, I thought it would be valuable to share the information that we give our patients!

Marketing and the media will tell you that you need to get the latest version of your favorite brand’s shoe because it has “new technology” and looks pretty cool. And for a couple hundred dollars, they should look cool! But, how come even after you update your shoes or get a new style that should be better for your feet, you still have nagging knee, foot, or hip pain?

Probably because research has found that running related injuries have a lot less to do with shoe type than shoe companies (and maybe even your healthcare professional) has led you to believe!

It turns out that generic recommendations for shoe type based on: foot structure, pronation/supination, arch height, etc have little to no effect on injury prevention in recreational runners.

Unfortunately, most people don’t know this, and focus on changing footwear when they feel pain, and then get frustrated when they don’t see results. We had a patient who had chronic knee pain with running, and thought that it was because she pronated too much. So, she bought new shoes with arch support to prevent her from pronating. Not only did it not fix the problem, it actually made her pain worse.

She had to stop running altogether because she was worried about making the problem worse, or getting seriously injured. We met her at one of our injury assessment events at a local run club, and had her come into our office for a Total Body Diagnostic, where we took at how her whole body moved to get to the root of the problem. It turned out that she had some instability at her hip, and also some limited foot and ankle mobility, which is why her foot pronated to compensate, and why the arch support didn’t help. It actually made things worse because it stopped her body from compensating.

We worked together to help her work on the cause of the problem, and she is back to running in her old shoes, pain free!

So, if you are feeling pain with running, what should you do instead of changing shoes?

Find the cause of your pain!

Don’t try to buy new shoes to put a band-aid on the problem. Don’t rest for weeks until the pain goes away, only to have it come back as soon as you start running.

Click here to talk to a Doctor of Physical Therapy about your running related pain, and to get to the root cause of the issue so that you can run as fast as you want and as far as you want without having to worry about pain holding you back.

Lastly, if you don’t have pain with running, the current footwear recommendations are: Wear shoes that feel good, transition carefully to new shoes if yours are worn out, and look at your training parameters. Adjust your training parameters if needed, and focus on self management techniques to prevent running related injuries.

About The Author

Dr. Kaitlin Herzog

Dr. Herzog attended the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. She went on to earn her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at Wheeling Jesuit University. Kaitlin has been an athlete for most of her life and was introduced to physical therapy when she had several sports-related injuries. She decided to become a physical therapist to help others maintain an active lifestyle while staying pain free. Kaitlin uses a hands-on approach to help people of all backgrounds optimize their movement and performance. Dr. Herzog is a record-holding competitive powerlifter, and you can find her training or competing in her spare time. She also enjoys Olympic weightlifting, CrossFit, yoga, sports, hiking, baking, crafts, traveling, and exploring Greensboro with friends.​

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