After a few weeks of the Commit to Get Fit program and going to the gym five to six days a week, my ankle which ached for as long as I could ever remember had become very painful most of the time. It had gotten to the point where I felt like I was not going to be able to continue with all I was doing, so I finally broke down and went to my sports injury doctor.
He x-rayed my ankle. The bad news was that I had some serious pronation and I was walking around as if I had one leg longer than the other. When I was 12, I had a doctor tell me that I had one leg longer than the other. I wish I had learned the truth long before now. The good news was that I did not yet have any permanent damage and that this was very fixable.
The doctor looked at my shoes and told me that I was wearing the worst brand of shoes available. I said, “But these are the most comfortable pair of shoes I’ve ever owned.” His answer, “We’re not necessarily looking for comfort.” Not only was I told that I needed better shoes, I was also told that I needed orthotics.
Ugh! The older I got, the more I was willing to sacrifice good looks for comfort. Now, I was being told that I couldn’t even have that!
After reading the book Commit to Get Fit I knew what shoe I was looking for. I did a little research on my own, and then went to my local running store in search of the right shoe for me. After trying several different brands, I left with my new shoes and orthotics. Shockingly enough, they were comfortable. Actually, I finally had the support I needed, so they felt great and the pain in my ankle eventually went away.
I went to my next training session with Cole. As usual, we started out on the treadmill. We were mostly walking on the treadmill with some running here and there. When I began to run, Cole stepped back, looked at my feet and proclaimed, “You have new shoes! I can tell a difference in your stride.”
It was nice to know that all the money I spent was making a significant difference. I could feel the difference. My ankle was no longer hurting, I no longer favored one side, and I quit dragging one leg. Walking and running was suddenly not as much work as it had been.
I certainly learned the value of a “good” pair of shoes. It didn’t take me long to decide that my shoes and the orthotics I put in them were worth every penny. I realized that I could invest in good shoes, or I could pay even more in doctor bills. I consider my shoes and my orthotics necessary tools of the trade.
The lesson I learned this time around was not to skimp on shoes. I know it’s something we hear over and over and often roll our eyes when we do hear it, but it is something to take note of. It’s like going from dial-up internet service (yes, we all remember those days) to a T1 line. You don’t know what you’ve been missing until you’ve tried it. And once you do, you certainly don’t want to go back.
If you are running or constantly on your feet, find a running store that will fit you properly for the shoe that’s right for you. They should measure your foot. I have them measure my foot every time I go in. You might be like me and find out that you’ve been wearing the wrong size shoe all these years. Find a store that will video tape your running on a treadmill with and without your shoes on so you can see any pronation or problems you are having. They should allow you to take plenty of time walking or even running in the shoes you try on. They should also offer an exchange period. They should be all about customer service, finding the right shoe for you, and making sure that you are happy with them. Your shoes are the most important tool of the trade, so take some time to find the right pair and most of all, don’t skimp. Your body will thank you.
By Lori Camper