Today on the Doc On the Run Podcast, we’re talking about the worst running shoes for stress fractures.
Are your current running shoes putting you at risk for a stress fracture?
Remember, stress fractures happen because you apply too much stress to the bone before it can recover and you run on it again.
That can happen for a couple of different reasons. One common reason for too much stress on the bone is that a runner didn’t have enough cushioning because they were using a shoe that was too stiff, or wasn’t padded enough, or soft enough, and they were running on concrete or asphalt. That run, in those particular running shoes, beat up the bone too much and then the bone started to crack and develop into a stress fracture.
Let’s talk about somebody that has a fairly stable foot type, you have decent arches that hold your foot in a fairly stiff rigid position. Well that kind of foot type is actually more prone to stress fractures because it’s rigid. It’s not absorbing forces as much. It’s not pronating as much. Pronation is where your feet collapse inward, your arches collapse a little bit, and that increased motion absorbs force.
If you have really high arches or you have really stiff feet and you don’t pronate very much and you have a stable foot where your arch doesn’t drop at all when you’re running, it’s more stress going through the metatarsal bones and they’re more likely to get a stress fracture.
One situation is where you’re running in those kind of shoes and you’re not using shoes that have enough cushioning, a neutral running shoe, which of course a neutral running shoe has lots of cushioning, and your feet are getting pounded. Well that’s one way.
The other way your foot absorbs too much stress is when you are landing as a heel striker. If you take the same person who’s running in a cushioning type running shoe and you have them run on a treadmill and they’re landing as a heel striker, and you measure the amount of force going through the foot with a force plate, I think they actually measure the amount of force applied to the foot, and then you take that person’s shoes away and you have them run as a forefoot or midfoot striker, well they’re basically, if they’re running barefoot it’s almost the same amount of stress.
By changing your form, that can make a big difference in how much force is actually going through the foot.
Now, the reason this is important is that you can think about your running form, and running form is one of the easiest things to modify if you’ve gotten multiple stress fractures. But it’s not just that, it’s the shoes too. Shoes add cushioning. It’s not complicated. If you have cushioning, that can help, but you can have too much cushioning.
If you’ve ever run on a brand new running track, one that’s just been resurfaced, it’s pretty spongy. If you’re running in cushioning type running shoes on that kind of track, it feels hard to stay on pace because you’re actually deforming the shoe and the track underneath you as you’re running and that requires extra energy to push off and to stay on pace.
So if you run on a brand new track, it may feel hard, or it may feel like a harder workout if you’re staying exactly on pace for your speed work. Then if you run on an older track that’s not as cushy and not as spongy, it may feel easier to stay on pace, but it’s actually harder on your body.
If you run on really soft trails, or you run on sand, and you run on grass, and you’re running in cushy running shoes, it may be too much cushion. It may be too soft. The shoe can give way underneath you. As the foot skates and you load your foot asymmetrically, it moves forces from the side of the foot to a different metatarsal and that can lead to a stress fracture, particularly if you do it over and over and over.
You can have too little cushioning, you can have too little stability, you can even have too much cushioning in that respect, but it depends somewhat on your foot type. In general if you have really high arches, you need more cushioning. If you have really low arches, you need more stability. But you have to have the right combination for you, and then you have to marry the right shoe to the surface that you’re running on.
That’s one of the things. You have to really talk about this when you go to get new running shoes. Don’t just think about your foot type. That’s what most people do when they get new running shoes. They go into the running shoe store, they ask someone at the shoe store who is an expert on running shoes, with my foot type, I’m a runner, I’m training for this event, what kind of shoes should I get.
But the important thing is to tell them what surfaces you’re actually running on. Are you running on trails? Are you running on a gravel jogging path? Are you running on the beach? Are you running on grass? Are you running on fire roads or really soft muddy trails? It’s really important to make sure that you pick the right running shoes when you get new running shoes. It needs to be something that really works well with the surface and your foot type.
That’s the thing is you need to make sure you get the right running shoes for your foot type and the surfaces you’re going to run on whenever you get new running shoes. That will really help reduce your risk of getting another stress fracture.
If you have a question that you would like answered as a future edition the Doc On The Run Podcast, send it to me, and then make sure you join me in the next edition of the Doc On The Run Podcast. Thanks again for listening!