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Maybe my shoes don’t like me?

The last time that I wore Nike shoes was in Jr. High school. I was reminded of this a couple of days after picking up another pair of new shoes that were on clearance and, honestly, were really cool looking.
Like most people, I’ve been given the impression that Nike shoes are awesome. I mean, they look really cool and the pros wear them and you can’t go anywhere without seeing Nike shoes, either on someone’s feet or at least on a billboards. They’ve GOT to be good shoes, right?

Perhaps they are. I honestly can’t say. I can say this though: Nikes are not the shoe for me. After wearing them for just a couple of days and running home with my son after picking him up after school,my knees started hurting. They’ve hurt for about four days now, even after not wearing them since then. I’ve worn my Asics a couple of times now, but those seem to aggrivate the pain and make it worse. It’s taken some thinking, but I’m pretty sure that I know why this is; too much padding in the heel.

For most of my life, I’ve run around barefoot. Even now, come summertime, my shoes are off whenever they can be. One summer at camp, my shoes came off on Sunday just after I arrived and didn’t go back on until Monday a week later. This even included a couple of hikes through the forest on old dirt logging roads. Needless to say my feet are strong and tough. It must be my hillbilly roots.

There’s a trend right now that has runners going to “minimalist” shoes. Some are even taking it as far as running barefoot. The idea of “less is more” as far as shoes are concerned is really taking off. The natural biomechanics of our feet is being closely studied and we seem to be coming to the realization that just maybe, if we let let feet loose to get stronger and do what they naturally do, we might benefit from it.

My understanding is that there is some transition time that it takes to get one’s feet used to little to no padding. There is some retraining to be done to adjust one’s stride from a shoe-bound and well padded heel strike to a more flat-footed, natural landing. Biometric research is showing that the mid-foot landing also puts much less impact on the ankle, knee, hip and lower back.

I believe that this is the cause of my knee pain. I have been wearing shoes with thickly cushioned soles which my body isn’t used to. When I walk, I land on the ball of my foot, using my foot and legs to absorb any impact. My shoes, no matter the brand, are causing me to move on a way that it’s not used to and impact joints that never get that kind of abuse. Instead of my muscles absorbing the impact, I’m relying on the shoe to do so. My knees are taking the brunt of the impact and screaming from the abuse.

I’m considering taking both pairs of shoes back and getting a minimalist style of shoe instead. I have a feeling that my knees will thank me for it.


7 responses to “Maybe my shoes don’t like me?

  1. JJ ⋅

    Mark just bought some Vibrams. He has been wanting them for a while. He hasn’t been on a real run yet, just a jog, but he likes them so far. I’ll let you know what happens!

    • robrdavis ⋅

      Are they the ones with the individual toes? I’m not too sure about those. I usually try to keep things out from between my toes!

      • JJ ⋅

        Yes, they are. I have to say I was surprised he went that way, but it doesn’t bother him. I guess you could always go try them on and see what you think.

  2. JJ ⋅

    Mark says his other shoes are Nike (even though you said you don’t like Nike) Pegasus 28. It has a medium heel. He likes them.

  3. I have my Nike hiking boots. It took a week to find the right shoe for me to hike in and I was absolutely shocked to realize that I LIKED the Nike boot. I even avoided trying it on for like 2 days of shopping just because it was Nike. They’re the best for me!!

  4. monica (jami's friend) ⋅

    Jami told me to check your blog out. Have you actually been fitted with a proper pair of running shoes from a running store? made a world of difference for me. Your body might not be ready for minimalist yet… The CEO Road Runner Sports sent out and email with pros and cons of minimalist running and “barefoot” running. They don’t recommend them for anyone who is over 20 lbs over weight, or are a heavy stomper when you walk or run. and it does take your feet awhile to get used to them. your calves will be screaming at you. My sports chiropractor also has warned me that she is getting a lot of people with stress fractures in their feet who run in those vibram shoes. i am not against them… but research them

    • robrdavis ⋅

      Hey Monica! Thanks for checking the blog out. 🙂
      No, I’ve not been to a running store yet. I need to find one and go. I did what everyone else does when they first start running; buy a new pair of shoes. I’ve seen running stores be recommended, especially to new runners, but since I’m on such a tight budget, I just figured that I probably can’t afford anything that they’d be selling, so I’ve not even looked one up yet.
      I wasn’t thinking about going straight to the Vibram “foot glove” or whatever it is, but something half-way there. As big as I am, I’m always startling people by “sneaking up on them,” or as I call it, “walking up behind them.” I’m actually one of the lightest people on my feet that I know. Everybody is always surprised how “light” I am on my feet, seeing as how heavy I am everywhere else! If you look at all of my shoes, the heels are the last part to wear out while underneath the ball of my foot is completely slick. That’s the main reason that I was thinking about trying a more minimalist shoe. It seems to be the way my feet already work.
      I’ve also heard about stress fractures being common for people who are switching to minimalist shoes. From what I understand, it’s mostly because their feet aren’t strong enough because they’ve been bundled up in cushy shoes for years and not allowed to do what they naturally do. I’ll have to look more into that as well.
      Thanks for the advice. At the very least, I can find a store and see if they’ll fit me and what they suggest. I hope they’re willing to talk to me once they find out that I’m not there to spent money right then!

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