Hear My Two Cents about….

November 18, 2016 No comment


Be an informed consumer.  If you want to run, you might want a pair of running shoes.  If you think you need running shoes, you might think of Nike.  You’ve seen so many billboards, etc with Nike running shoes, you might think of them first.  In fact, a lot of the people you know probably wear them.  Nike, then, has beaten its competitors through name recognition because their brand was your first inclination.  You didn’t think about Adidas, Asics, Brooks, Mizuno, New Balance, Reebok, Saucony, etc..  or even Puma (who sponsors Usain Bolt).  You might even go through the Nike product line until you find one you like versus searching with a different criteria, such as width, “technology,” and even price.  Note too, that price, often when paired with some other factor like appearance (name included), can create a perceived value–which may or may not be what you should have been after.  It depends on what you really want.  If you plan to use your running shoes only when you run, then a name and appearance may not matter to you.

If functionality is your desire, then go simple first with the shoes (presuming you’re completely new) and get some coaching.  Some shoe manufacturers cater to a sport or to a segment within a sport (IE distance running, middle distance, sprints), and most carry different models for differing respective events.  Remember, with lots of cushion sometimes comes a marginal loss of control, BUT if you are running for the first time in a long time, you will likely want some cushion.  With coaching, you will more quickly discover where your strengths and weaknesses are, and learn some corrective strategies.  What should closely follow this is the adherence to some sort of a program– or a loose structure of how to go about enjoying and improving the way you run.  Mechanics affect strength and flexibility, just as strength and flexibility affect mechanics.  A good coach can identify movement errors, strength and flexibility deficits, and the potential pitfalls of poorly executed mechanics.

Where do shoes come in to this equation?  The answer is that in many situations, a runner (I refer mostly to distance runners) will have a mild mechanical flaw.  No matter how small an imperfection, once repeated over thousands of repetitions it will have been ingrained as a pattern that is difficult to offset or reverse.  Ever heard of a microtrauma?  This is an injury of attrition; it is not like getting into a car accident (when an injury might be incurred as a result of a macrotrauma), but instead it happens over time through volume.  Shoes will sometimes work to offset harmful side effects in this case.

As a coach, though (who is a sprinter by trade), I will tell you this:  Don’t leave it up to your shoes.  Fix it.  Do the necessary work to reverse poor movement patterns.  Strengthen and stretch your hips.  Lift your knees when you run…  AND, if you plan to compete on the actual earthen surface on which man has existed since, well, man has existed, then get off the treadmill.  Feel your levers moving under you, propelling you forward and upward (as you push back and down) on a surface that moves away from you only relevant to the movement that you initiate.

Back to shoes, then….  My opinion is that you should wear a shoe that allows you to perform what you do in the best way possible.  In my case (when I run), this means something that fits well and has less cushion–but keep in mind I have trained mostly for sprinting..  And cushion is really protection and comfort; which is offered to alleviate the effects of undesirable forces into the ground.  So to rid yourself of a dependency on ergonomic aids, and in the interest of your long-term wellness, seek to move as efficiently as possible.

Mike Visscher

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