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Monday, July 12, 2010

Running Shoes: Tips on Breaking In A New Pair

One of the principles used for breaking in new running shoes is not to go at it "cold turkey", by abandoning one shoe to a newer, sleeker, sexier, model. Most patients, with or without orthotic devices, experience a natural change in the running shoe structure during it's growth from running shoe store to recycle bin/Goodwill. The natural change of a running shoe, except in the worse pronators, is from flat to leaned outward. The photo above shows a running shoe that is slightly leaned outward or slightly supinated. Most runners love a running shoe with 100 to 200 miles of wear, more than a brand new shoe, for three reasons. First of all, the upper begins to soften and mold slightly to the runner's foot shape. Secondly, the shoe goes from flatfooted (relative pronation) to slightly supinated (the way most orthotic devices force runners as well as does most motion control shoes). And thirdly, the shoe bends at the ball of the foot better as it softens making it easier to push off the ground (better propulsion).
What does this really mean to a runner? I try to encourage runners to purchase another running shoe after 400 miles of wear. This is normally a time that the runner feels great with their shoe mechanics. Somewhere between 500 and 700 miles the average runner has worn out their shoe(some even sooner, a few later). But the exact time can vary from shoe to shoe and the warning signs too subtle to notice clearly. By beginning to wear the new shoe for the shorter or easier weekly runs, alternating with the older (more mature) shoe for the longer, harder workouts, it is easier for the runner to know when the older shoe is no longer effective (and perhaps injury producing). Once the new shoe has 100 miles of its own wear, you can begin to wear both shoes on alternate days. When the older shoe finally feels consistently worse than new shoe, it is time to send to an elderly care facility.
This scenario can change if you are dealing with an injury which produces pain while running. If you buy a new shoe which produces pain relief noticeable to the more pain producing older pair, common sense says to abandon the older pair immediately. This is a Golden Rule of Foot: If pain is produced in one pair of shoes but not another pair, stick to the pain free pair!! Many runners will experience the opposite (no pain with old shoes, and pain with brand new shoes). If this is reproducible after several short runs, abandon the shoes, bring back to the sports shoe store, or show to the sports medicine health care provider and try to figure out why. If you can not figure out why, and there normally is a good explanation, then you will not know how to pick up another new shoe. It could simply be that the newer shoe is temporarily making you more pronated and, if you want to keep them, you need to walk in them for 2 or 3 weeks before running in them. You may also need an OTC (over the counter) arch support like Your Sole to use in the more pronated newer shoe until it begins to lean slightly into supination.
The general rule in breaking in a new pair of running shoes is by beginning to alternate with an older, but not yet worn out, shoe. I hope the advice above will give you a better grasp on this subtle, yet very important injury prevention, task.Good luck!!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rich,

    Your blog is so great!! My mom is visiting and we were just reviewing all your thorough bunion care posts- she is at Stage 3 but never knew there were non surgical options. She wants me to print out all your posts but I will get her following you.
    And it just so happens I ran on new running sneaks today and so important to break them in.

    Thank you for all that you are doing!
    Your fan,



Thank you very much for leaving a comment. Due to my time restraints, some comments may not be answered.I will answer questions that I feel will help the community as a whole.. I can only answer medical questions in a general form. No specific answers can be given. Please consult a podiatrist, therapist, orthopedist, or sports medicine physician in your area for specific questions.