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Dr. Mariappan Jawaharlal Headshot

The Best Running Shoes

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Surgeon General's Warning: Running with these shoes ruins your natural posture and causes serious injuries.

Would you buy a shoe if it had the above warning label on the box? Yet we spend $100+ on running shoes that are actually causing serious injuries.

It all started when my daughter said that she was going to run a half marathon (13.1 miles). I thought this was the most sensible thing she said in a long time. I was excited and without even a moment of hesitation I decided then and there I was going to run too. I am an abecedarian in running and the last time I ran was when I was a sophomore in high school and that was 35 years ago.

Now that I decided to run a half marathon, I bought a few top-rated books on how to train for marathon and read them all. I took their advice and bought two pairs of running shoes, pain reliving spray, another glue-stick like pain relieving stuff, two ice packs, knee supports, back support, ankle support, Dr. Scholl's moleskin, and a heart-rate monitor. As I was going through my shopping list I couldn't help but to feel if I am planning to run for fun or preparing myself for a disaster. It is like I already knew I was going to be injured.

On day one, I put on my back support, knee support, ankle support and my shoes and looked at the mirror. I admired my look and felt like a runner. My first day of running was a mere half mile. I was out of breadth the moment I left home, that too, on a downhill. The second day my heels were hurting but I managed to run half a mile again but it was a pure torture. I was worried if I could ever run just 3 miles, forget 13.1 miles. The problem is not muscle soreness, which will go away. It was my back and the shin, and the pain was excruciating. I read more books and found no answers.

I then bought a fancy Garmin Forerunner that would continuously display my heart rate and pace. With all the gadgets on I looked like a real runner except that I wasn't running even a mile without pain. So the question was how to tolerate the pain for 13.1 miles. Once the question is clear, I approached it scientifically. I googled. My research indicated running injuries have been on rise since 1970 when jogging became a popular exercise program for fitness. It was no accident Bill Bowerman, founder of Nike promoted jogging along with his new shoes.

The only problem running with theses shoes is that it alters the way we are supposed to make contact with the ground by modifying our posture, and that changes everything: plantar fasciitis, shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, Metatarsalgia, Retrocalcaneal bursitis, knee pain, back pain, shoulder stress, you name it. Our natural running posture is biomechanically correct. Children actually run like that. The truth is that the shoes that we think are supposed to protect us from injury is actually causing the injury. The shoe companies knew it all along but they didn't care a foot about it.

Unfortunately there is no regulation in the shoe industry like the drug industry even though shoes can do as much damage. It took several decades for tobacco industry to acknowledge that cigarette smoking is dangerous. Why can't the shoe companies be required to put a warning label on their shoes?

There are hundreds of silent barefoot runners all around the world breaking running record after record. I wasn't sure if I could run barefoot. Then I came across the Five Finger shoes, something that came right out of spider man movie. I got my first pair and ran two miles.
The next day I went for a quick run and checked my Garmin. I ran 3 miles and my heart rate was 10 beats per minutes lower than before and my speed improved almost by 20 seconds per mile. A few weeks of running with these shoes, I realized my back pain and knee pain are gone for good. I feel my boyhood has returned when I run. Since then I have now completed several marathons. I have tossed my entire shoe collection. I will stick with these funny shoes for now.

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