Should You Rotate Different Running Shoes to Avoid Injuries?
Yes – Rotating Running Shoes Reduces Chance of Injury
The problem with running is that it is repetitive–you stress the same bits of your body with every stride. This is especially so if you are running on a firm and flat surface. To spread the load to different parts of your body you can alter your gait by running at different speeds, up and down hills or off road. A mixture of all of these will help reduce the chance of injury.
“It is easy to keep pulling the pair of shoes out of the cupboard you prefer the fit and feel of”.
The other thing you can vary is the interface between you and the ground–the shoes that you wear. Every different running shoe you put on will alter your gait slightly and give your foot a different stimulation. It’s the variation that will go some way to help avoid injury. Personally I am quite strict with myself and never wear the same shoe twice in a row. It is easy to keep pulling the pair of shoes out of the cupboard you prefer the fit and feel of. However, long term religiously alternating your shoes will help keep repetitive type injuries at bay. This is backed up by a scientific study carried out in 2013 that found you were 39% less likely to get injured if you alternated your running shoes than if you ran in the same ones all the time. View the Study on Rotating Running Shoes.
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If for example you were a mild pronator you could wear a shoe to help support your pronation that had a soft ride to it during your easy runs. Then use a shoe that had a firmer, more responsive ride and had slightly less pronation support during your faster runs or interval/fartlek/hill reps. The difference in the firmness of the ride will mean that your foot gets more stimulation on the days you wear the harder mid-soled shoe and get more of a rest on the days you wear the softer feeling shoe. The slight variation in the level of pronation will work the same way and help get your foot/knees/hips stronger. It is common sense that if your body is supported all of the time it gets weaker rather than stronger. So, from a runner’s perspective you end up with weak supporting muscles but, very fit heart and lungs. You need to get the supporting muscles/bones/ligaments to get stronger at the same rate as your heart and lungs.
“The slight variation… will work the same way and help get your foot/knees/hips stronger”.
If you are running every day or a few times a day then it is an idea to vary your shoes more than the above example. You can do this by having trail shoes/fell shoes to use for some off road running that will also help strengthen the body and reduce injury or even have some flatter more minimal shoes to use for some of your running too.
Long Term, Alternating Your Shoes May Save You Money!
Every time you run in a shoe you crush the cushioning. This cushioning will spring back into shape when alternating between different pairs as they also get time to recover!
If you are new to running, looking to build up the frequency of your runs and want to alternate your shoes we suggest you add another pair to your collection when your current pair is part way through their life. Most running shoe manufactures will say their shoes ‘last around 500 miles’. On that basis, once you get to about 200 miles we suggest you buy your second pair and start to alternate. When your first pair feel like they have lost their bounce and need replacing, you will have another pair that you are running in so you won’t run the risk of running in a worn out pair of shoes, which of course could also lead to niggles or injuries!
At the Northern Runner store in Newcastle upon Tyne you have the opportunity to test running shoes along the corridor at the back of the shop. This has a concrete floor, so you can feel the difference in the ride of each of the shoes.