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.