Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Check Your Shoe Mileage

I remember back when the grocery store started carrying fancy pointed toed tennis shoes, or in the early 1960’s, called “sneakers.” I rode my bike to the store to buy a cool spotted pair for $1.99. My entire babysitting stash went to one pair of shoes.

In the mid 1970’s I became a part of the aerobic craze, and lucky me, became an originator of exercise classes taught to the beat of music. Seriously. How was I supposed to know that jumping up and down on a cement YMCA floor with spotted grocery store sneakers would not be advised in the years to come? In fact, suspended floors and very expensive and scientifically engineered cross training shoes would be the thing of the future.

Over the years I have worn and learned everything about the engineering of shoes. For a time I received free Nike court shoes as a racquetball pro. I wore Avia shoes for teaching aerobics, and had support socks given to me by Nike for shin splints.

As my career as an active athlete waned, I worked out less, and wore each pair of shoes fewer times a week. Look at these shoes. Do they look anywhere near finished to you? Well, most recently, each time that I walked, outside or on the treadmill, my leg would ache. Eventually, my knee began to ache and pop. Then, my ankle started to hurt, until one day I woke up with a knee and ankle that were aching beyond belief.

After a medical exam I was told that my patella was not tracking properly and that I had patella femoral pain syndrome. This means having to get my knee back on track to prevent any future damage. Since I had been walking and running more than usual, I decided to take a look at my shoes. In my research I discovered that runners generally put 350-500 miles on their running shoes. OMG! I put that on this very pair of shoes over 7 years ago! It’s like I’m driving a car with 400,000 miles. No wonder the tires are worn and the frame has begun to take on a severe imbalance!

As a therapist myself I have worked on many gait imbalances on both human and equine athletes. With equine athletes, shoes and orthotic devices are often used to correct severe gait imbalances.

I tried many types and styles of shoes, and bought a lovely pair of Teva cross trainers with a nice cushioned sole. Only two weeks later, with new shoes and a simple exercise program, my leg is straighter and almost pain free. This has been an inexpensive but successful lesson for me. At the age of 59 I feel fortunate that I was blessed with this awareness before I really hurt myself.

If you’re a walker, runner, or aerobics advocate and you’re having ankle, leg, knee, or hip pain, have it checked out by the doc, but consider how many miles that you have on your shoes.

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