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Research Confirms Rotating Running Shoes Could Save You From Injuries—Here’s How Your Body Benefits

Having a shoe collection is not a frivolous obsession. Here’s how you could possibly benefit from having more than one pair of running shoes.

Once you’ve found yourself the perfect pair—you know the ones you want to spend every run in—it’s kind of hard to give them up. However, doing so could actually work to your advantage by keeping you healthy and strong for each run. 

“These days, a lot of people use one shoe for everything, and that puts you at risk for injury,” says Priya Parthasarathy, D.P.M., spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association and partner at USFAS in Silver Springs, Maryland. Running, walking, and weightlifting all require different demands of your feet, so you’ll want to wear different shoes for these activities, she says. Plus, wearing one shoe for all of your workouts can increase the wear on the shoe, so they won’t last as long as you want. 

That’s where having a running shoe rotation becomes very helpful. Research and experts back up this idea, and it’s especially helpful to have a shoe rotation if you’re training for a long distance race like a marathon. Here’s what you need to know in order to build a running shoe rotation that meets all of your needs. 

Why do you need a running shoe rotation?

Naturally, running places stress on multiple parts of the body, including muscles, bones, and tendons, which can be good for you provided the stress is not too large or frequent that you can’t recover fast enough, says Andrea Myers, D.P.T., who owns a sports performance practice located in Westport and Ridgefield, Connecticut. 

”We know from many research studies that different running shoe properties expose the body to different stressors,” Myers says. “We know that minimalist shoes—those with a low or zero drop, flexible sole, and minimal to no stability features—increase the demands on the ankle, foot, and calf muscles, as compared to shoes with a higher drop, which increase the demands at the knee but reduces the demands at the foot and ankle.” 

A carefully crafted shoe rotation can possibly offset some of these demands. 

To identify characteristics that might contribute to the development of running related injury, a 2013 research study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport followed 264 runners over the course of 22 weeks. The study found runners who used more than one shoe, a term which they coined “parallel use,” had a 39 percent lower risk of injury. This suggests having more than one pair of running shoes can help you ward off injury. 

The reasoning behind it, if you have a cushioned shoe and you let a shoe sit for 24 to 48 hours, the foam in the shoe can de-compress before your next run, says Parthasarathy. 

How many shoes do you need in your rotation?

If you’re just starting out, you don’t have to worry about rotating your running shoes, instead, invest in one good pair of running shoes. Parthasarathy recommends finding a shoe with a flexible toe box, firm heel cup, and removable insoles. The one shoe should overall be comfortable to you.

The seasoned recreational runner who runs three to four miles, three days per week, does not need a rotation of four different shoes either, says Myers. Instead, Myers recommends two pairs of shoes that you can rotate every run. 

For marathon runners, racking up 35 to 60-plus miles a week with a variety of workouts (easy, long, and speed runs) on their calendars, Myers recommends keeping a shoe rotation of three to four pairs of shoes. This can include one to two pairs of shoes for easy runs and speed workouts, and one pair of shoes for long runs that can handle a variety of different paces. Your long run shoes can also double as a performance trainer, or a lightweight daily trainer, Myers says. 

What types of running shoes can you add to your running shoe rotation?

Here are three different types of shoes you can consider adding to your collection, according to Myers: 

Daily Trainer: These shoes are primarily for easy running, but can also handle different paces. you can use them to run strides or up-tempo long runs. Good examples of daily trainers include: the Brooks Ghost 15, Saucony Ride 17 or Guide 17, Nike Vomero 17, or Hoka Clifton 9.

Performance Trainer: Best for speed workouts, performance trainers are lightweight shoes that perform best at faster paces and can double as daily trainers as long as you feel comfortable in wearing them for longer distances. Plus, they tend to be more affordable than top-end race performance shoes. A few styles to consider include: Saucony Endorphin Speed 4, Topo Cyclone 2, Mizuno Wave Rebellion Flash 2, and Brooks Hyperion Max.

Racing Shoes: Commonly referred to now as super shoes, racing shoes tend to be more expensive and less durable, considering some shoes have a life expectancy of about 100 to 150 miles. This is why you shouldn’t do the bulk of your training in super shoes, instead you should take them out for a test run or two to ensure they’ll meet all your comfort needs on race day. Saucony Kinvara Pro, Asics Superblast, Adidas Adizero Prime x 2 Strung, and On Cloudeclipse are a few super shoes to consider.

How to find the right shoe to add to your rotation?

Before adding any a shoe to your rotation, you should consider if the shoe is a good fit for your foot arch (flat arch, high arch, or medium arch), running gait (neutral, pronated, or supinated), shoe size, preferred comfort level, and the terrain (treadmill, pavement, or trail) you’ll run on. 

“Building a running shoe rotation, especially if you run on different terrains, is important because the shoe wears in different ways,” says Parthasarathy. Meaning where you run will influence some of the characteristics you look for in a shoe. For example, running on hard pavement will require increased cushioning, whereas trail running calls for more stability and traction, she explains. 

If you want to change the type of shoe you’re training in, then the recommendation is to ease into the number of miles you try in the new shoe (i.e., don’t go for a long run in a drastically different shoe). 

You may experience some soreness if you transition to a different type of shoe, however, you shouldn't experience pain that lasts for days or interferes with your normal running gait pattern on subsequent runs, Myers adds. 

Lastly, you’ll want to get rid of your running shoes every so often due to wear and tear that may go unnoticed. ”We recommend you replace your running shoes, especially if you’re doing long distance running every six months or 300 to 500 miles, depending on how hard you are on them,” says Parthasarathy. If you can fold or bend your shoes in half, it’s often an indication the structure of the shoe and cushioning has been broken down, and it’s time for a change, she adds. As mentioned, the new high performance racing shoes tend to have a shorter shelf life when it comes to mileage. 

Who should avoid rotating running shoes?

There’s no need to rotate your running shoes if you’re only running a couple of times a week because you’re likely not racking up enough miles to overstress your tissues, says Myers. 

Also, don’t rotate running shoes if you have specific biomechanical or orthopedic needs due to injury, foot structure or shape. For example, runners who have arthritis that affects the big toe, a.k.a, hallux limitus, should prioritize running in shoes that can address this condition, which there are few of, Myers says. 

(07/07/2024) Views: 116 ⚡AMP
by Runner’s World
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