Response to Coach Jenny from Runner’s World on Achilles’ tendon injuries.
Here’s a reply you may find interesting to what Coach Jenny recently had to say on Achilles’ tendon injuries in Runner’s World. You can read the article here.
This is very true and it is even more true that shoe companies have no research or evidence into why they are creating what they are creating. If the thick cushioned heel is the answer, then why are shoe companies getting rid of it? Are minimalist shoes on the decline? Absolutely not. The shoe companies are evolving their shoes to have less heel height and more flexibility. Cushioned heels, we think, were introduced for two reasons. One, it was theorized that if you took longer strides you could run faster and while taking longer strides you inevitably will land on your heels. We have since proved this is not the case. Secondly, we know that if someone is suffering from Achilles tendinitis, placing a lift under their heel will reduce the stress on the Achilles’ tendon and help with healing. This leads many to believe that the shoe companies introduced a heel to then prevent Achilles’ tendon issues. That’s not how the body was designed or evolved to work. The foot should be flat against the ground in order to properly function and absorb shock. There are no studies that demonstrate any reduction in injuries by adding a cushioned heel to a running shoe. The shoe companies made them and we all began wearing them! We are seeing it again right now with the Hoka One Ones. They’re making the shoes and for some reason everyone is buying them! Not a single piece of evidence to create them. Yes there is research involved but it’s for materials, not injury reduction. There is not even research in existence as to the use of motion control shoes or even assigning shoes based on foot type. This paradigm of choosing a running shoe is now being phased out.
Transitioning to a minimalist shoe, or a shoe that coach Jenny has described as having a lower heel drop is a good thing, but an even better approach is to learn running patterns and adjust your form to a more natural gait that does not rely on the shoe or cushion. It takes time but will improve your running. More running injuries come from improper training patterns than from the shoe or foot type.
Coach Jenny is right on with the transitioning, but I would always wear the new shoe with a lower heel height for the first part of the run and not the last part. Your body is tired during the later stages of running and will begin compensating if too tired and this should be avoided when introducing the new shoe. Wear it first, then switch.
Follow my blog for more advice on transitioning or for help with running injuries!