If it doesn’t work…

Give up?

I hope that sounds absurd, but that seems to be the approach some people take when it comes to running and related injuries. For a variety of problems, the first attempt at a solution is often to add more of something, likely cushion or pronation support. Then, if that doesn’t work, maybe there’s another step of more of the same, possible even augmenting the shoes with additional orthotic food beds.

It’s not uncommon for this progression to get to a point where either the patient gives up and stops running, or at least is advised to do so. They decide or are told something to the effect of “maybe your body just isn’t intended to run.”

That’s when you know it’s time to find a different doctor, physical therapist, shoe store or coach. If the other side of the progression isn’t at least tried, less support, less cushion, less ramp angle, etc., then how can one possibly know? Not everything has been tried. Sounds to me like looking only one way before crossing the street.

Making any change in your running routine should be undertaken carefully and slowly, ideally with the support of a good coach and/or a medical professional. But that goes for a change in either direction, toward more shoe or less. It’s still a change that will alter how the body uses it’s muscles and joints and there is risk of injury.

This is more or less my story, and it’s one I’ve heard from more than a few people I’ve talked to recently. Really extreme minimalist running certainly isn’t for everyone, but isn’t it clear that running in beefy motion control shoes with huge ramp angles and extra orthotics is just as far outside the norm?

I’m not a minimalist runner and don’t really aspire to be. I use minimal shoes as my walk around every day shoes and occasionally run short distances or drills in them. Today however, I went a little crazy. I needed a moderate to long run but knew it wasn’t going to be a fast day. So to challenge myself a little beyond what I’d done before, I ran in a pair of really minimalist running sandals.

It was only 8 miles at a relatively slow pace, but it was really fun and eye opening. For a guy who thinks about running a lot and actively tries to improve it, running in sandals was still hard. More importantly, it felt better than any 8 mile run I can remember from my days of thick, heavy motion control shoes.

If you’re trying something and it doesn’t work, try something else, not just more of the same.

Luna Sandals

Too cold for running sandals? Just add toe socks!

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