I had my running evaluation this morning at the sports medicine center where I get physical therapy. I'm still managing some pain in my knee, but it's progressing quite well. In addition to the PT, I give a lot of credit to the Trigger Point Performance suite of products -- they're much more effective than any foam roller I've ever used.
In my first visits to the orthopedist and with Jeff, my physical therapist, I was told that my running shoes aren't supportive enough and probably are directly contributing to my problems. They asked where I got them and who told me to wear them. I explained that I talked to the owner of the company and picked the shoes that were right for me.
I also explained that, in my opinion, the Vitruvians did a lot to help my achilles troubles because they have such a low heel. It took some getting used to, but ultimately I ended with stronger calves. I also prefer to run with a mid-foot foot strike, rather than a heel-strike, which means I don't need/want the big, overbuilt heel that is common in a lot of running shoes.
Both the doctor and Jeff (who, to me, are fairly knowledgeable and objective, despite this experience) were dismissive of my $60 shoes and said that with my flat feet, I'd need something more. The underlying tone (either implied or inferred, I don't know) was that I needed something more mainstream -- not from some wacky sneaker guy in Vermont.
Longer story longer, the running eval guy said all the same things today. "You're going to need a more supportive shoe. I hope these didn't cost you too much."
So, I took the test -- Greg, the eval guy, took some video of my gait while I was on a treadmill. I walked barefoot, I ran barefoot. I walked with my sneakers on, I ran with my sneakers on. We looked that video at normal speed, then frame by frame. Greg also could measure the angle of my pronation with one of the tools in the analysis software.
- I overpronate (roll in) more with my left foot than my right
- When I run barefoot, I'm more of a fore-foot striker (I land towards the front of my foot, not my heel). There's a little overprontation when I run barefoot, that should be corrected with appropriate footwear.
- When I put my garbage-bin-destined shoes on, I have a slight bit of pronation when I walk -- within a natural range.
- When I run in my "non-supportive," non-brand-name shoes, I... wait for it... have no unnecessary pronation.
The reason I like this sports med place was summed up with Greg's next comment -- after watching the video a few times, then checking and rechecking the angles --"Your shoes are fine. I really didn't think they would be. And looking at them, I still wouldn't think they would be good. But when you run in them, you have good mechanics."
It says something about Greg's character (and professionalism) to admit he was wrong.
All that said, I still have other bio-mechanical issues: weak hip muscles (especially on my right side) and poor balance (related to the weak hips). My right hip drops when I run, because of the weak hip area, which is likely the underlying cause of my IT band/knee problems. So, more strengthening, more flexibility... and more $60 running shoes.