By: Laura Wenger, PT, DPT, OCS
If you are anything like me, you have a favorite pair of running shoes that you throw on before heading out the door to go on a run. Personally, I have a pair of shoes that I stick with year after year because I have found that they work best for my body and my feet after some trial and error with other brands and styles. Shoes are a big deal for most runners, and there is often a lot of debate on which shoe is the best, depending on your foot posture and running style. Regardless of which type of shoe you tend to use, another question up for debate is whether or not you should be using multiple pairs of shoes that you alternate between for runs and whether or not that decreases your risk of injury as a runner. A recent research group in Europe performed a study to attempt to answer that question.1
It has been shown that overuse injuries are the most common type of injury sustained in runners and that anywhere from 27-70% of runners, both recreational and competitive, may sustain an overuse injury over the period of one year.1 I see more and more patients, especially in the super active town of Durango, come in with various leg, pelvis, or low back injuries that are aggravated by or were initially caused by running. The group of researchers in Luxembourg hypothesized that, because various previous studies have shown the effects of footwear on running patterns, a regular change in the pair of shoes that you use may cause variation in the stresses placed on your body, thus decreasing overuse injuries.1 They also hypothesized that runners who actively participated in other sports would be less likely to sustain injuries due to the fact that they were varying the stresses placed on their body.1
In order to help determine whether or not their hypotheses were correct, the group kept track of approximately 260 amateur runners over the course of 22 weeks.1 The runners were asked to report their training activity, the types of shoes that they wore, and whether or not they sustained any injuries.1 A runner was considered a "multiple shoe user" in this study if they reported a minimum of two different pairs of shoes that they alternated at least two times over the 22 weeks that they were reporting their information.1 A little over half of the total runners in this study ended up being multiple shoe users.1 What the researchers found in the long run was that the runners who alternated between multiple pairs of shoes during their training period ended up having a 39% lower risk of injuring themselves as compared to those who used the same pair of shoes for the entire 22 weeks.1 This was just one study and more research would be warranted to explore this further in the future, however it is information that would make me consider having another pair of running shoes actively ready to swap out with my normal shoes in order to potentially vary the stresses on my body and lower my risk of injury. If you want to pick a PTs brain about this further and learn more about how to fine-tune your training and body in order to prevent running injuries, contact our clinic to schedule and evaluation today.
1. Malisoux L, Ramesh J, Mann R, Seil R, Urhausen A, Theisen D. Can parallel use of different running shoes decrease running-related injury risk? Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2015;25:110-115.