Do you know the song Dem Dry bones? One verse goes something like this:
With the toe bone connected
to the foot bone,
and the foot bone connected
to the ankle bone,
and the ankle bone connected
to the leg bone.
Now hear the word of the Lord!
And so on up through the hip, back, arms, neck, head, etc. To see an amusing blast from the past, check out the Delta Rhythm Boys singing this song at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVoPG9HtYF8.
Just as the song says, our bones are all connected, and the fascia, ligaments, tendons and muscles take their cues from how aligned our bones are. If your foot bones are out of alignment, this will affect your knee, hip, and eventually your back and on upwards. Many of us spend a lot of time and attention on the shoes we use for style and dressing up, but think about the shoes you wear most of the time. They may well be your sneakers, so it’s worthwhile to know how best to choose them and when to replace them.
A recent study examined how to choose the best shoes for running and exercising. In brief, research was conducted with recreational and elite runners about their choice of running shoes. A lot of research has been done about correcting over-pronation (foot turning inward when walking or running) by using orthotics or specific running shoes that are built for various types of foot and strike patterns.
The results of the study found that the running shoes chosen for comfort versus those chosen for correcting various foot strike are often better for you over time. Initially, this may seem like a no-brainer. Of course you’ll buy shoes that are the most comfortable, but a quick walk in the shoe store with your new sneakers is quite different from a walk or run outside for an hour or more. One store in the Boston area excels in allowing you to feel how comfortable your shoes are. Marathon Sports actually analyzes your walking or running, makes a decision with a few different models of shoes that will fit you best, and then allows you to walk or run in those shoes outside of their store. This takes some of the guesswork out of choosing the most comfortable shoes. Only if you have pain in your feet, ankles, or hips should you try to correct for a heel strike pattern that may be over-pronated or supinated. Many people have custom-made orthotics that they use when exercising. Consideration must be given to shoes that have removable soles to fit these orthotics. If you have new orthotics or shoes that are very different from what your feet are used to, take caution when wearing them initially. Wear the new shoes or orthotics for a few hours at a time at first so your feet can acclimate.
The generally agreed upon limit for running or walking shoes is 500 miles, although once again, listen to your body to give you cues about when you should retire your current pair. Allow them to air out between uses, and if you wash them, air dry them instead of throwing them in the dryer. Intense heat dries out the shoe glue and you can extend their life by avoiding this. Buy a second pair of shoes about halfway through your primary exercise shoe’s life. This will allow you to compare and contrast the cushioning, will extend the life of both shoes, and give a chance for each pair to air out between uses.
Remember how great it feels to have a bouncy new pair of sneakers? Now you have reasons to experience that more often. Wear your new shoes in the best of health!