I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails from readers who have found my blog by searching for different running injuries. Those emails prompted me to dig through the search terms to see how people were finding my blog. I think the number of people finding me by searching for jogging stroller recommendations was equal to the number of people finding me with running injury questions! I guess that makes sense – I’ve had 3 different injuries (runner’s knee, peroneal tendonitis, and posterior tibial tendonitis) in the 2 years I’ve been blogging.
I’m pretty sick of being injured. I’ve taken time off for injuries, taped my knee and tendons in place with KT Tape or Rock Tape, been to a sports medicine doctor, been to a sports massage therapist, been to a chiropractor, cursed various body parts, blamed the jogging stroller for my injuries, googled my symptoms until my fingers went numb (only a slight exaggeration), and I’ve tried different shoes. I have tried SO MANY SHOES. I’ve been through the specialty running store gig several times – watch me run on the treadmill and video tape it, watch me walk around the store, look at my feet, watch me run around the store, make me special insoles. Conclusion – I need neutral shoes. No, I need neutral plus shoes. Actually, no, I need stability shoes.
When I was pregnant with Ezra and had to stop running when my posterior tibial tendonitis became unbearable around 20 weeks, I was really frustrated. Sure, pregnancy hormones played a role since they cause tendons and ligaments to become more flexible, but there was more to it than just that. Around that time, I picked up a book I had started months before but never found the time to finish: Born to Run.
I know the rest of the running world has already read the book so I’m a little behind the times. As I got farther into the book, I realized something – it really was the shoes. Maybe, just maybe, all the traditional running shoes I was trying to solve my problems were only making them worse. My shoe epiphany prompted me to send an e-mail to fellow blogger Miss Zippy since I knew that she had a history of running injuries and found barefoot/minimalism to be part of the solution. She led me to some great resources, one of them being the Natural Running Center. Their website is full of really useful information about barefoot and minimalist running.
I know people think that barefoot/minimalist running is a fad. It’s actually not. It’s the way we are supposed to run and the way humans ran until the modern running shoe was invented in the 1970s. I’m not saying that every runner should go ditch their regular running shoes, but having a thick built up chunk of material under your heel that elevates it above your forefoot isn’t exactly natural.
When I wore traditional running shoes and began to run into several injuries, I was running in the Mizuno Wave Prophecy. I don’t know if there is a running shoe out there that has a more built up heel than the Prophecy. When I started experiencing injuries, I tried a slew of other traditional running shoes and nothing seemed to help. That’s because all the shoes were the problem. Years ago, after my first marathon, I experienced so many issues that my doctor recommended orthotics. Do you know what the orthotics did? They caused more injuries. I developed Achilles tendonitis and got so frustrated that I pretty much gave up on running consistently for a couple years.
Now, I wasn’t about to ditch the shoes all together and run barefoot once I had my shoe epiphany. I don’t want to get my feet dirty :). You also won’t see me wearing the stereotypical shoe of barefoot runners – Vibram Five Fingers – because I feel like I need some cushion under my feet since I run on sidewalks and pavement. Ultimately, I decided to go for a zero drop shoe (meaning there is no drop from the heel to the forefoot) that offered some cushioning; my shoe of choice was the Altra Intuition 1.5. It’s a zero drop shoe with a nice roomy toe box. I loved them from the moment I put them on my feet. I have a lot more to say about my transition to minimalism, but I’ll save that for another post.
I’ll try not to get all preachy about barefoot/minimalist running. If traditional running shoes are working out for you, then there’s no need to rock the boat. BUT if you have been through a lot of running injuries like I have, then do some research and think about whether or not making the switch is right for you. For now, here are some excellent resources for the barefoot/minimalist curious readers:
Christopher McDougall (author of Born to Run)