Jumping in with both feet!
Fresh new shoes! Is there anything more exciting and filled with possibilities than a new pair of running shoes?
If you are starting a new pair of running shoes that you have run in previously and have not taken any time off lately, go for it! Take ‘em out for a run with no worries! Personally, we like to wear new shoes for shorter runs at first just to break them in a little bit.
Then exercise (see what we did there?!) caution with introducing this new variable into your run rotation.
Princess and the Pea Feet
Of course you’ve been to a local running store and been evaluated and fitted for your running shoes. Those shoes should feel very comfortable and fit you well walking around. But if you are trying a different style of shoe, it can be different enough that you need to give your body time to adjust to the change. If you are starting in with a shoe like a Hoka (maximalist) or a minimalist shoe, it’s best to start very slowly and cautiously so that if there are any issues, you are able to catch them early.
Patience is a Virtue
Start very slowly with introducing a new type of shoe. Even though it may seem maddeningly slow, cautiously adding in a new type of shoe or orthotic can help alleviate pain and injury down the road.
Not Just Da Feet
During the break in period, things will feel differently day to day as your soft tissue adjusts to new forces. Remember, your feet connect up the chain to your ankles, knees, hips and back. Do you notice a little twingy feeling in your knee or your back with these new shoes or orthotics? That’s another sign to be cautious adding mileage in the new shoes.
For women, as a reference point, you wouldn’t suddenly walk in high heels everywhere all day long, would you? Or if you are a hiker, you wouldn’t take brand new inflexible mountaineering boots out for an all day hike, would you? The same principle applies for a shoe that is very different that what your body is used to.
Are They for You?
Hokas can be recommended for people for a variety of reasons. Hokas feature a high stack height with a meta-rocker bottom combined with a lower heel height than traditional running shoes. The higher stack height equals more cushioning which can be great for people who are troubled with impact issues in their feet or knees. The rocker forces a heel to toe progression when running and that can be beneficial for people with foot/toe issues.
We’ve heard that for some athletes, running in Hokas has enabled them to run farther with no foot pain. For some these shoes have helped diminish knee pain. For others, they’ve found that while their feet appreciate the extra cushioning, their hips do not appreciate the change and the higher stack height means a bit of instability which can cause issues with ankle instability possibly increasing the risk of turning an ankle.
People often wish that shoes or orthotics will magically fix any issues that they are having. And by fix, we mean that people hope new shoes or orthotics will help them to run faster with only rainbows and unicorns. The reality is that hokas (and orthotics) may help address some issues but you still have to vigilant easing into these new devices and still work to make sure you stay strong, stable and running within your means. Sorry, you still need to work on glute strength!
Often we see someone try a recommended shoe (like a Hoka) or orthotics and run too much too soon. Jumping in too quick, everything feels wrong and pain can develop in unexpected places. We really like seeing athletes in a variety of shoes. Some may be better for longer runs or speedwork. If you do not give a chance for your body to adapt gradually to these new devices, you are setting yourself up for failure.