The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

3 Reasons Why Your Sneakers Won’t Prevent Running Injuries: The Evolution of a Sport

Posted by on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

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Despite all the “Max Air” cushion foam, “Duo-Max” support systems, and patented shoe technology, runners are still injuring themselves in droves. Research shows the incidence of lower extremity running injuries can be as high as 80% in some studies. Statistically, very little has changed since the 1970s, but the shoes certainly look a lot sharper — and cost a lot more.

“Patients are coming out of the doldrums of winter and becoming more active this time of year,” explains our very own Dr. Ryan Minara. “So, we are seeing a lot of running-related overuse injuries such as stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendonitis.” Many of our patients wonder, “Are the manufacturer claims of stability and support all just a bunch of hot air and marketing hype?”

running injuries
NY podiatrists discuss why running shoes often prove inadequate when it comes to injury prevention.
Image Source: Mk2010 via Wikimedia.org

Runners Have Changed

It is possible that improved shoe technology is, in fact, reducing some of the usual wear-and-tear injuries suffered by runners, but those changes are offset by the shifting demographics in the runner population. As The Atlantic so astutely points out, “In the past 30 years running has changed from something done by trained runners who competed for sport, to an activity that is enjoyed by the masses.” At last tally, the Sports and Fitness Industry Association counted nearly 30 million Americans who ran at least 50 times in 2012.

Factors that increase a person’s odds of suffering a running injury include:

– Gender (female)

– Age (very young or very old)

– Weight (too little or too much)

– Previous injury history (likely to recur)

So-called “weekend warriors” often push themselves too hard after long breaks, which causes all sorts of injuries. We have to keep in mind that we may feel mentally young, but our bodies do inevitably age. Running 5K may have been a cinch in college, but it could wreak serious havoc on the knees, shins, feet, and back in our forties or fifties.

The Sport Itself Is Rough on the Body

We often recommend cross-training to athletes who visit our New York podiatric medicine center because it forces them to use different muscles, tendons, and joints in the body and reduces the risk of overuse injury. Running, by its very nature, is an injury-prone sport due to the repetitive nature. With each stride, the joints, bones, muscles, and tendons absorb up to five times your weight in impact. Yet, if the roughness of the sport directly caused injury, then every runner would suffer in the same way. The truth is: each body is unique in how it responds to stress.

Shoes Are Designed for the Masses

What we notice in our NY gait analysis center is that every runner has a different stride. Some runners are heel-strikers, while others give a harder push off the balls of their feet. Some runners are pronators, while others are supinators. There are flat arches and high arches. So many little components factor in to how the body absorbs shock that it’s impossible for a one-size-fits-all solution to prevent injury. That’s why runners often come in looking for a biomechanical analysis and custom orthotic shoe inserts.

NYC Running Injury Treatment & Prevention

Sometimes it can be difficult to find a specialist, but our NY podiatrists are currently accepting new clients. For your convenience, you may book at our Manhattan or Westchester podiatric & sports medicine centers online!

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.