Footwear Wars and Gait Analysis

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In recent years the footwear debate has heated up.  Battle lines have been drawn between new distinctive groups such as the “minimalist” shoe folks and the “drop heel” traditionalists.
I have had so many patients come in with bags of shoes; hypersensitive to their shoe selections.  Some bring in barefoot running shoes and big bulky shoes and have no idea which direction to turn.  In some ways patients stressing about their footwear mimics the physical therapy professionals also stressing about how to advise regarding footwear.
I am still myself sorting out evidence and peer reviewed studies regrading footwear types.  Evidence and theories change so quickly that I have become determined not to make up my mind just yet…
Footwear war aside, I think its best to shift one’s emphasis to what you stick into the shoe — i.e. your foot.  I have seen plenty of patients bring in prescribed footwear from very highly skilled shoe fitters. The problem sometime being that you have the right shoe but still run / jog wrong.
The right shoe will still let you compensate for weak muscles and inflexible or injured muscle groups. The right shoe still may cause common injuries such as: plantar fascitis, patella tendonitis, IT band syndromes, etc…
My best advice: Footwear is important, bio-mechanical assessment is even more important. When analyzing / correcting your running – be process oriented and not just goal oriented. Know that running / jogging / walking correctly takes a very dedicated effort and an open mind but has big pay offs in performance. At our clinic in Keauhou, we analyze gait / running style of many athletes such as soccer players, 5ker’s and iron men participants. We used HD cameras, imovie software and the Uber Sense analysis app in an effort to paint the most complete picture of what is happening during movement.
Dr. Brett Carey DPT

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