It isn’t just another excuse to go shoe shopping science shows that using more than one pair of running shoes could improve your striding strength!
Let’s talk about injuries. We all know that runners are prone to getting them. In any given year, up to 50 per cent of runners suffer an injury. There are well-known things you can do to reduce your injury risk – take rest days, strength train, stretch or have regular sports massage. But the injury-proofing tactic that often slips under a runner’s radar is to train in two or more pairs of shoes. ‘By using the same pair of trainers over and over, your muscles will work in the same activation pattern,’ explains Simon Callaway, Saucony technical representative (saucony.co.uk). ‘If there’s an imbalance in your natural gait [you overpronate, for example], some muscles will work hard to get stronger, while others will be underused and won’t get strong at the same rate. So you end up with muscular imbalances. In the long run, particularly if you do lots of miles on hard concrete,this will increase your risk of getting an overuse injury.’ Luckily, changing the models and types of shoes will place different forces on your body, which can reduce the risk of getting an overuse injury. Added bonus? You get to stock up on your trainer collection!
It isn’t just another excuse to go shoe shopping science shows that using more than one pair of running shoes could improve your striding strength! Photo Gallery
Don’t believe it? Science backs up this theory. Researchers in Luxembourg studied the training routines of 224 runners over 22 weeks. The scientists wanted to know what the injury occurrence was for those who have just one pair of trainers, compared with those who run in multiple shoes. Of the 224 runners, 116 were single-pair wearers who did 91 per cent of their mileage in the same pair of trainers. The remaining 148 runners were multiple-shoe wearers who did 58 percent of their mileage in their main shoe and then rotated 3.6 pairs of trainers for the rest of their training.Tellingly, 87 of the 224 runners suffered a lower-limb or back injury during the study,running shoes had a 39 per cent lower risk of getting injured than the single-shoe wearers. ‘This is one of the few studies that’s done in real time and over such a long period, so it gives a fairly consistent result,’ reports Callaway. ‘And, when you delve into what the scientists actually did, you realise that they ensured the multiple- shoe runners had completely different pairs of shoes, rather than two pairs of the same model.’ İndeed, buying several pairs of your favourite kicks won’t cut it.
İt’s not about the wear and tear of the trainer, but a matter of the stress that a trainer’s geometry puts on the body. ‘İf you do your short runs, fast runs, steady-state runs and long runs all in the same pair of shoes, you’re still working your body in that one activation pattern,’ adds Callaway.Running technicians liken this to using the same piece of kit to work your muscles at the gym – if you only ever work your biceps on a preacher curl machine, you’ll gain biceps strength but won’t build the core strength that’s required to do standing curls with free weights. When you then perform standing curls with the same weight, you’ll be a bit wobbly as you lift the dumbbell – and putting muscles underload without a stable base is more likely to lead to injury.Variation is key. ‘By having two or more pairs of different shoes, your muscles will be working in different patterns and at a variety of intensities,’ adds Callaway. ‘This is because the shoes will work the body ever so slightly differently, building a general level of strength across the body that enables opposing running muscles to stabilise against one other.’ The net result is a stronger, more injury- resistant, you. Winner.
Some of you runners will already be training in multiple shoes perhaps,without even knowing it. If you’re running off-road in trail shoes and doing road runs in cushioned trainers, you’re already implementing an element of trainer rotation. But it’s not only a matter of having different styles for changing terrain, but also about having more than one pair of trainers for the same terrain.‘At Saucony, we have trainers that boast 8mm offsets between the heel and the toe [also known as the “drop” of a shoe] and those that have 4mm offsets. The 4mm offsets are closer to the ground and so will work the Achilles tendon differently from the 8mm shoes. They’ll also stretch the calves a little bit more, and ensure the muscles across the front of the forefoot and shin aren’t working so hard,’ explains Callaway. It’s this variety of muscle strengthening and stretching that could help injury-proof your body.And it’s not just about the offset of a shoe. Different running brands also offer a variety of underfoot cushioning systems, which will all work the body in a slightly different way. Saucony soles are made from Everun, a polyurethane foam that return energy to the body when running. Asics Offers GEL cushioning, a gel-based system that absorbs impact shock when the feet hit the ground. HOKA has ProFly foam, which cushions the heel and supports the forefoot. ‘Even if two shoes seem fairly similar [two pairs of stability trainers from two running brands, for example], there will be subtle differences in how they work the body,’ says Callaway.Aim to choose the shoes that suit your runs – off-road trainers will offer more grip for trails, racing flats will be lighter in weight for speedy times, and cushioned trainers will protect your joints from repetitive impact on high-mileage jaunts- and don’t forget to replace them when the shoes have covered 300-500 miles.Ready to add to your trainer collection?Read on to find out how to rotate your trainers each week.