Should I Switch to Minimalist Running Shoes? A Physiotherapy Opinion.
Posted May 31, 2013 by MSP Clinic
Posted In: Ask the Physiotherapist, Back Pain, baseball, Clinic News, Contests, Ergonomics, foot pain, Golfing, Health & Wellness, Leg Injury, Local News, Manual Therapy, Neck Pain, Nutrition, Osteoporosis, Patient Study, Physiotherapist Advice, Physiotherapy, Running, Services, Shoulder Injury, Soccer, Sports, Sports Injury, Sprains, TPI Assessment,
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There has been some intriguing research emerging recently to suggest that a shift back to a more natural running style (ie. forefoot or midfoot strike) may be beneficial for both the prevention and treatment of many running injuries. Interested in this concept, I recently took a course in ‘New Trends in the Prevention of Running Injuries’ with Blaise Dubois, a Canadian physiotherapist and runner who specializes in researching and teaching about ground-breaking concepts in running injuries, why they happen and what the current research is saying about how to best treat them.
As with anything in life, the question of whether it is the best decision for you to make the switch is not a simple one. I’ve summarized a few key points below that you may want to consider when asking yourself this question.
1. Where am I getting my information from?
Much of the education around minimalist running comes from the manufacturers of running shoes. This is a problem. You should find a neutral source in which to educate yourself, one that can help you look at the pros and cons of making this switch and big picture of what elements need to be taken into consideration for you, including your current injuries, running style (heel strike, midfoot or forefoot), and goals for the coming months or year. Blaise recommends finding a professional who is not going to benefit from you making this shift, is a runner themselves, and has an understanding of the core concepts of minimalist running and how to assist you with making this shift.
2. Make your changes slowly and have a plan!
The shift to minimalism needs to be made slowly and with a well-defined and understood plan. Minimalist shoes (generally referring to ones with less cushioning on the heel than a traditional shoe, also called a negative drop shoe) encourage a more forefoot or midfoot strike during running. This running style puts less stress on the knees and hips, but more stress on the foot and ankle. If you make the transition to these shoes and running style too quickly, you put yourself at a higher risk of sustaining injuries to the foot and ankle.
3. What are my current injuries?
Generally, the people who should be using caution and having physiotherapy for their injury as a first route are the ones dealing with a calf, foot or ankle injury. As mentioned in the previous point, changing your running style can increase the stresses put on your foot, this may not be a good idea when you are already dealing with an injury to that region. Proper assessment and treatment guidance from a skilled professional is advised for these injuries
Wishing you an injury-free summer!
Katrina Sovio, registered physiotherapist and runner.
BHK, BScPT, MClSc(candidate), CGIMS.
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