In 2014 I tore my meniscus in my right knee. I was also diagnosed with “severe” arthritis. That was my wake up call. I was not done competing in the Ironman and did not believe I had to quit. “Certainly, other runners have arthritis and still run”, I thought. I was troubled when Dr. Braden told me that arthritis was bone on bone and eventually I’d have to have my knees replaced.
I told him perhaps in other people. Not for me.
I had knee surgery in January of 2015 to repair the torn meniscus.
Right after that was my quest to figure all this out. I discovered some stats that troubled me yet led to my discovery that I’m sharing with you today.
Did you know that the United States has the most running type injuries than any country in the world? The country with the least running injuries was Africa. Why is this so?
There are several reasons.
In the United States:
- Shoemakers care more about how the shoe feels when you first put it on than they care about your health.
- Shoemakers (like food companies) put profit over your health.
- Shoemakers are better at marketing than they are at making shoes that are healthy.
- Professional athletes endorse their brands but do not wear the same shoe as they endorse.
- Most grow up running barefoot.
- Most do not wear expensive shoes made in the U.S.
- Most are the fastest runners in the world.
Why the Proper Shoe Matters
In this series of slides by Golden Harper, you’ll learn what I learned about U.S. made shoes.
Golden Harper’s Notes about Healthy Running (a great PDF file)
I learned a great deal from his innovation. He also has the following to his resume:
- 2:45:34 Marathon at age 12 is a World Best for 12 Years Old
- 2x State Cross Country Champion & Footlocker Finalist
- Inventor of Altra running shoes, the world’s first cushioned Zero Drop™, Foot-shaped™ running shoes.
- Coined the term “Zero Drop™” to describe how the cushioning no longer dropped from the heel to the forefoot of a shoe.
- Inventor of removable StoneGuard™, Sandwiched StoneGuard™, StabiliPods™, removable varus Stability Wedge™.
- Worked and/or managed at Runner’s Corner from 1991-2011
- Did all his collegiate research on Running Injuries and Running Technique & graduated with a degree in Exercise Science: Fitness & Wellness with a Business Management Emphasis
U.S. made shoes have the following (unhealthy) characteristics:
- The heel padding is raised above the padding for your toes
- causes a shorten Achilles tendon, and
- forces you to heel strike and in front of your center of gravity
- forces the pelvic area to adjust in an unnatural and unhealthy way (see Golden’s pdf file for a complete description)
- The padding is thick
- masks the pain you feel from your overuse injury
- with the reduced pain will cause you to not seek to change the cause of your running pain and eventually you’ll feel the pain again and seek to buy another shoe instead of fixing the cause of your problem
- The toe box (and socks too) is narrower than your toe’s natural position
- The most natural position of your foot is when it is barefoot
- African runners have substantially less running injuries than U.S. runners because their foot is natural as they run barefooted
- The shape of the shoe is not the natural shape of your foot
- Unnaturally shaped shoes force your foot to adapt
- Because your foot has to adapt will cause your entire body to compensate thus leading to heel striking, less efficient running gate, lower back pain, foot, knee and hip injuries.
Phil Maffetone DC’s Running Shoe Recommendation
I highly respect Dr. Phil Maffetone, DC. He is a pioneer endurance sport’s coach who among other innovated solutions created the Maffetone 180-Heart Rate Formula. Perhaps his greatest success was coaching Mark Allen to win the Ironman Triathlon World Championship a record six times.
He states the following in his book, The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing;
“Generally, the body has a great natural ability to heal itself. When your body gives you a very obvious sign, such as a hamstring twinge, it’s time to stop and assess what’s going on. If you don’t, it may soon be too late.
Yet there are many exceptional healthcare practitioners in sports, and I devote a whole chapter to how to find one. The better sports practitioners take an alternative view about the best kind of treatment and carefully consider the entire athlete. This is critical because an injury is, with some exceptions, simply the end result of a series of dominoes falling over. For example, one morning, while bending to tie your shoe, you feel a twinge in your hamstring. While that’s where the pain is located, it’s often not the location of the cause. A comprehensive history and evaluation might discover the cause is in the foot— the result of wearing the wrong kind of running shoe. Some barely noticeable muscular imbalance in the leg might develop, leading to a tilt in the pelvis, with a final stop in the hamstring— the source of the pain. The remedy? Obviously, ice, anti-inflammatory drugs, or rubbing the hamstring is not going to correct the real problem. Obtaining the right shoe will often quickly allow the body to make its own natural corrections of the fallen dominos.”
Don’t use costly, built-up running shoes; instead use the flattest, least protective training and racing shoes to prevent foot and leg injuries. Philip Maffetone DC
Why I Use Altra Running Shoes
If you’ve read all the material in this blog and even read some applicable information from Golden Harper’s Blog and especially reviewed the slides on the enclosed PDF file, you understand the cause of most running related injuries and how U.S. made running shoes substantially contribute to the problem.
I’ve used Altra running shoes since 2015. Working with Dr. Braden, DC and wearing Altra shoes (I even had to convince Dr. Braden of my findings) I’ve experienced the following results:
- I have no more pain in my knees, legs or pelvic area
- I’ve learned to run like a Kenyan (using the Pose Running Method) as proposed by Golden Harper.
- When I wear my old running shoes in a casual setting for even a few hours my feet ache
I’m not paid a dime to endorse Altra Running Shoes!!!
If you suffer or have suffered from nagging running injuries, the shoes you wear, according to Dr. Maffetone, will either prolong the pain or heal it. Your shoes do matter.
As I’ve worked with Dr. Braden, DC to overcome many of my running pain symptoms I now feel that I’m in a position to run the best of my life at age 61+. I’m blessed that my arthritis doesn’t seem to even exist anymore.
It took me 12 weeks of targeted effort to relearn how to run correctly with the Pose Running Method. My Altra Running shoes feel very comfortable and helped me make the transition of being a heel striker to a mid-foot striker. I even wear their casual shoes.
If you’d like to speak to me about this article, please reach out to me on my CONTACT ME page.