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Wrong Shoe, Right Pain – Why Your Running Shoes Are Meant For Running

Andrea Collins went out for her Wednesday run. Because the weather was bad, she went to her gym to run. Instead of running on the treadmill, which she sometimes finds boring, she decided to run on the track – the track, mind you is so small that 12 laps equals one mile.

After 33 laps, Andrea called it quits, and while satisfied that she ran three miles, her knees were killing her. Later that day, Andrea told me she had gone to the gym and ran in her walking shoes.

“You ran 33 laps on a teensy track in walking shoes?” I asked.

“Yes, and my right knee is killing me.”

“Let me guess, your right knee was the outside knee, meaning you were running counter clockwise and the outside ligaments are hurting.”

Andrea looked at me, astonished.  “You’re dead on,” she said.

“It’s your illiotibital band.  I’d keep off it for a couple of days. Oh and don’t forget to ice it.”

Ok, I am no doctor but after over 20 years of running, if you told me you ran in repetitive circles on a hard concrete track in walking shoes, and your knees, hamstrings, and/or arches of your foot were hurting I would not be surprised. In Andrea’s case, she was asking a lot out her walking shoes. Walking shoes are not meant to support the legs in the running motion. They do not support the foot or knees laterally while running around a tight oval-shaped track (or any track for that matter).  Further, from my experience, when someone complains of pain or aching on the outer side of the knee toward the middle or at the end of a run it suggests of symptoms related to “iliotibial band syndrome.”

My suspicions were proven correct as I researched Andrea’s pain, and yes, “circular track running,” according to my research, can also contribute to this pain.

But let’s get to the real issue here – Andrea was wearing walking shoes.

Running Shoes Are Meant For Running

The purpose of an athletic shoe is to protect the foot from the stresses of your sport; as the forces and motions that occur in different sports vary greatly. In his article, Athletic Shoes: A Quick Look, Dr. Stephen Pribut, Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery at George Washington University Medical School, explains that while many walking shoes, for example, are beginning to resemble running shoes, they are not scientifically engineered the same way.  Runners have so many specific needs in terms of support and walking shoes are not designed to give that same type of support. My walking shoes, for example, are heavy and do not mold to my foot the way my Asics running shoe does.  In fact, my walking shoe does not provide the same heel-toe support, nor does it protect me from pronating, which, when uncorrected, would cause knee or hip problems for me.


So in conclusion – wear your running shoes when you run.


Some other things to keep in mind when you are wearing your running shoes:


1. Running Shoes Must Be Changed Frequently


If you are a distance runner who is running over 25 miles a week, you may be wise to purchase new shoes 3-4 months. source: About.Com – Sports Medicine


2. Go to a running store to get your first shoes


I was a Nike wearer most of my running life until I got turned on to Asics. I had run in Asics before but did not become brand loyal until I went to the Metro Run & Walk shoe store in Fairfax, VA six years ago while training for the San Diego Marathon. There, I had a professional watch me run a few steps. I talked about my past pronation problems and what I thought I was looking for in a shoe.  I was given the Asics 2100 series and am currently running in the Asics 2130 – the 2008 model.  I have bought two pairs in the last six months and I love them.


3. Go wide


After giving birth to my first son, I discovered the balls of my feet were hurting so I went the podiatrist. I learned that in pregnancy, our ligamets get really lose but after birth, things tighten up again. So it was my feet that felt the affects of this the most. The podiatrist told me to replace all my shoes and buy wide widths – especially in my running shoes.  Since purching my first pair of Asics wides, I have never gone back. I recommend wide widths in running shoes to all of my friends.



8 thoughts on “Wrong Shoe, Right Pain – Why Your Running Shoes Are Meant For Running

  1. I have found that my feet swell during long walks and that not only is it wise to get wider shoes it is important to have them long enough. I go up a size to get plenty of room.

    Posted by oregonhiker | May 12, 2008, 5:50 am
  2. bucolically says : I absolutely agree with this !

    Posted by bucolically | May 29, 2008, 2:05 am
  3. Selloff says : I absolutely agree with this !

    Posted by selloff | May 30, 2008, 4:36 am
  4. hi, just thought you might be able to help. is it okay to run on the track with a pair of gym shoes?

    Posted by Val | July 16, 2008, 2:24 pm
  5. Running on the track in gym shoes is not recommended for any distance really. I mean, if you are just jogging a mile or so for warm up it’s probably no big deal but also think about your body type – from a physiological standpoint, you always want to think about protecting your body from now until whenever – which means using the right equipment for the right activity.

    Posted by tighthams | July 16, 2008, 3:30 pm
  6. Shoes are braces for the feet and thus cause atrophy to the muscles that support the feet leading to weak and injured feet. Weak feet cause stain and misalignment all the way up the leg through the hips up the spine to the head.

    The more structured the shoe the worse the problems become.

    The best runners in the world use minimal or no shoes at all. Do the research and you will find when you run barefoot or as close as possible based on the conditions of the terain the pains and injuries will subside.

    Posted by truthsearcher | March 18, 2010, 1:16 am
  7. Your comment about something, i suggest too be it more long as possible.

    Posted by Jamest Lasie | March 9, 2011, 3:15 am


  1. Pingback: Good information on shoes « Oregonhiker’s Weblog - May 12, 2008

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