If you’ve been running for more than a few months, you’ve undoubtedly heard the widely accepted adage that all runners should be regularly fitted for shoes at their local running specialty store. It’s true – when it comes to running, a sport that requires a repetitive motion and high impact, it’s imperative to have shoes that are well fit to your specific foot and are in line with your goals and your current mileage. But have you ever been told that it might be beneficial to run in more than one pair of shoes?
While some runners have different pairs of shoes that they wear for different types of workouts, many runners wear just one type of shoe all the time. For example, some runners may rotate between a more highly cushioned shoe for long runs, while short, fast efforts may employ a lightweight, minimally cushioned shoes. Even if you’re running all of your runs at the same pace and mileage, though, you can benefit from rotating your running shoes. In fact, a 2013 study found that runners who rotated among multiple models during the same training cycle reduced their chance of injury by 39 percent! That’s huge!
Why is rotating so effective? Think about it like this – each brand and model of running shoes has a unique design specific to the company that manufactures it. When your foot is fitted to a shoe and you wear that shoe exclusively, your body strengthens the tiny muscles in your feet and legs based on the support it receives from that shoe. Your foot strikes the ground in a certain way over and over again, causing an impact chain up through the lower body. When you rotate between several different types of shoes, you change the way that impact and load are distributed throughout the lower body, reducing the risk of overuse injury. Changing shoes also encourages your body to strengthen slightly different muscles in response to the unique support it is receiving from that particular shoe, thereby increasing strength overall.
In short, next time you visit your local running store to get fitted for shoes, considering asking which two (or three!) pairs they recommend for your body, goals, and experience, and give them a try. Who knows? You may find yourself arriving at your next race starting line faster and healthier than ever.