How to Safely Transition to A New Run Shoe

So, we've covered how run shoes can play a role in running related injuries by affecting the degree of load on your body in our article, Do Run Shoes Matter?  Now suppose a change in run shoe is in your future, how should you transition to a new make or model?  

While a change in shoe may help you prevent injury, a sudden or drastic change is likely to cause injury. Sudden changes to a lower drop shoe, for example, can lead to achilles tendonitis, fracture in the bones of the foot, or shin splints.  

The injuries caused by shoe changes usually occurs because the change was too drastic or too abrupt or both. Your muscles adapt over time to shoewear. You may have shortened and or weakened muscles if they were highly cushioned or had a significant drop. These muscles may not tolerate a change without addressing strength and flexibility first. 

A gradual change in cushion and drop is critical. For example, someone who is currently running in a 12mm drop model should ease into a 10mm drop as opposed to jumping from a  12mm to 4 mm drop.

Likewise, someone who is running in a high stability model or one with lots of cushion should gradually move to a moderate/middle before moving onto a minimal/low. When shopping for new run shoes, ask the salesperson for the specs on the models that you are trying and compare them to your current ones.

Shoe Change DO’s:

  1. start with shorter distance runs (2-3 miles)
  2. alternate your runs with the new/old shoes
  3. choose a model that provides a gradual change 
  4. listen to your body - slight post workout soreness may accompany your change but you should not experience pain. 
  5. strengthen muscles of the foot and calf when transitioning to less drop.

Shoe Change DON’Ts:

  1. Do NOT change shoes just weeks before your race. 
  2. Do NOT change shoes if you are battling an injury for which you are not being treated.
  3. Do NOT continue with the new shoes if you experience pain.

Many factors including running habits (volume, surface), foot strike, strength, cadence, goals, past injury history etc. all play a role in the make and model that is best for you. If you are currently suffering from an injury, you should be evaluated and treated before making any changes in shoe.