When I first started running, I didn't think the shoe I wore would make much difference - all the running shoes are the same, more or less, right? I didn't realize how wrong I was until my already sore knees started aching with even the easiest jog around the block! After doing a little research, I learned that every person has a unique foot shape, leg alignment, and stride combination. Different variations on the configuration of your "natural running gear" can affect the areas in which running impact is most felt, and the areas in which you will experience the greatest amount of pain or highest risk of injury. It was a little scary to know that my knees were putting up with more stress on my runs than any other part of my body, especially after years of soccer knee injury horror stories!
Fortunately, I also learned that local running stores offer gait analysis and shoe fittings to help me find the RIGHT pair of shoes to keep my entire body more stable, which therefore would distribute the impact more evenly and help prevent immediate soreness AND long term injury. I popped over to a nearby store and had a full fitting and analysis done. It only took about ten minutes, and I received so much important feedback on my personal running mechanics! Honestly, it's pretty cool to see your stride broken down and your weak points analyzed. Knowledge of your mechanics can make you more aware when you're out on the road or trail, so you can correct any instabilities or imbalances on the go.
After my analysis I was able to purchase custom-fit inserts to help correct the splay of my feet (and therefore my knees) on top of purchasing a shoe designed to alleviate some of the strain of my gait. Between the proper fit and support of the shoe and the made-for-me inserts, my running game has changed drastically! I'm more stable on my feet, and I feel almost no knee pain anymore. My imbalances are mostly corrected, and I've hit some crazy PRs in my special shoes! And any runner knows that means you're doing something RIGHT!
If you're serious about upping your running game, get serious about your stability early! Not only will your body thank you for it, but your PR board just might, too...
Don't forget to visit Deb Runs, host of this wonderful linkup, to see what other bloggers are saying about stability in their lives! And check back next week for another edition of the Wednesday Word!
Have you tried custom shoe fitting yet? Do you have running pains that might be addressed with better footwear? How does stability factor into YOUR life?