Dealing with pain and finding the right fit for you

I have struggled over the years with a lot of pain brought on through running.  Most of my pain has come from IT band issues.  I’ve done several things over the years to help, from on-going deep tissue massage, to ART; both of which can become expensive with numerous treatments, however, they do work.  Of course, I’m like most people, so I don’t have the unlimited funds to make weekly appointments with my chiropractor or massage therapist, so I’ve had to change a few things.  This past year, I’ve finally made some changes that have helped me.

Over the years, I’ve changed my running shoes about 4 times.  The first pair I owned had far too much stability.  I realized within a few months this pair was not for me.  I consulted with a foot doctor and he gave me an analysis of my feet and he recommended I wear a lighter stability shoe.  Through trial and error, I went through a couple more pairs of shoes. With each shoe I bought, I decreased the stability rating.  I consulted with my local running store when buying my shoes to get their opinion on my feet and of course, made my shoe purchase decisions based on their input.  I gave these shoes some time to prove to me, that these were indeed my proper fit.  Alas, I still had IT band issues and my knees throbbed with pain on an ongoing basis.

Did I mention I stretched?  Oh yes, I stretched.  I stretched, and stretched and stretched til I could stretched no more!

I finally said, “To heck with it”, and went back to a running store.  I consulted with yet another shoe retailer who again analyzed my feet.  He had me running in my socks back and forth across the store several times, and then said to me, “hmm….I think you need a less stability shoe.  I’d say, you need a neutral shoe”.  I was a bit dumb founded by his input, but he sat and talked to me a lot about the shoes and I really had a sense he knew what he was talking about.  He wasn’t afraid to give his opinion, despite my hesitation and previous professional input.  One thing he said to me, that really stuck with me was that “You shouldn’t have to break in a new pair of shoes.  They should feel good from the moment you start running in them.  And you shouldn’t have the pain you are currently coping with”.  He suggested a couple of different models for me and then I left the store.  I didn’t buy that day, but I decided to think about it.  It kind of ticked me off that again, another person was giving me another option in shoes.  Another option in shoes that would cost me another $150-190 a pair.  These are expensive trial and errors.  Especially since I had a brand new back up pair of shoes to wear when my current ones were ready for the garbage.

Last Fall I went to NYC, and I walked into a running store who sold the shoes that were recommended to me.  The one pair I was interested in were on sale for $109.  I knew that these shoes were sold in Canada for much more, so I made the decision to buy them that day.  Yes, it was another expensive test, but when I thought about the amount of money I spent on doctors for ART and massage, I reasoned that it was less of an investment, and I was willing to take one more kick at the ‘running shoe wheel of fortune’.

My bet paid off.  The Saucony Ride 5‘s were my shoe.  I have been using them now for 5 months and have noticed a huge difference in the way I feel after a run and on my rest days.  I won’t say my IT band pain is gone but it definitely has decreased substantially.  My knee pain too is very minimal.

I won’t say the shoe was the the only factor in helping me.  There also is another piece of equipment I’ve been using on an ongoing basis.  I would say, aside from my running shoes,  and my shrugs 😉 , this piece of equipment is a MUST have for any runner.

The Foam Roller.

Yes, this simple piece of foam you can buy at most running stores for about $30-$40 has changed my life.  I use it after every workout to roll out my IT band, quads, hammys, lower back, and my calves.  It takes about a week to really get used to it as you have to move your body in certain ways so there is a bit of a learning curve.  Since my IT band is the tightest, I definitely was in some initial pain on my first few go arounds.  One would be surprised when using a foam roller just how tight their muscles really are until they practice with the roller.  There were areas such as my quads that I rarely felt tightness, but after a good session with the roller, I knew that this was not the case.  After a few sessions, the roller over my IT band became much more bearable; enjoyable in fact.  No more sleepless nights of throbbing legs or knees.  Getting up from a chair was easy and my hip pain I experienced after any run over 10K has not returned.  I love my foam roller so much, I packed it in my suitcase when I went to run the Tinker Bell Half last month.  Yes, it’s that good!

Over the last few months, I’ve re-energized my love of running.  I can’t wait to get back on the pavement on a regular basis and train for my next race.  I really think I’m going to get stronger and faster because of these new changes.

If you are lucky enough to get the right shoe when beginning your running journey, that’s terrific.  However, if you feel like your running is struggling due to your shoe, don’t be afraid to take a chance on another pair.  It may just save you a lot of pain and perhaps some money in the long run.

Have you struggled with finding the proper shoe?  Do you use a foam roller? Tell us your story.


8 thoughts on “Dealing with pain and finding the right fit for you

    • Yep! It was a toss up between those and the Triumph. I won’t say I won’t ever change again, as brands tend to play with certain aspects of the shoe from season to season, but this one feels great. Very happy with my decision. 🙂

  1. I have been using the Adidas Supernova Glide 4 for about 6 months now and absolutely love them – I agree you sort of know within the first few weeks whether a shoe is ‘right for you’ or not. As a student I used to just buy trainers which were discounted online (I have only really used Adidas) but sometimes when they arrive you realise that they are very different than you first though. I did use some very ‘clonky’ trainers which obviously had a lot of support for a while and did not enjoy running in them, although I confess to being lucky enough to not have had any injuries or problems.

    In the UK, the Sweatshop Running Shops are great as they do free gait analysis – my suggestion for bargain buying is to try shoes on in store (whilst subtly making a note of the ones that you like) and then looking online, you can often find them a lot cheaper. My Supernova Glides that I use now are about £80-90 full price and I managed to get them online for about £45-50. Once you’ve found a model/brand that works for you, I would recommend sticking with it as you know it’s one you can trust.

    Glad to hear you’ve found your ‘perfect’ (or almost perfect) shoe!

    • Thanks for your reply. Great tips! I also find that Running Expos can be a great place to pick up a back up pair of shoes. It’s often a good idea to check it out and see it they carry your shoes. You just never know! 🙂

  2. Isn’t it amazing how your shoes can impact your mechanics so much?! People don’t realize it! It PAINS me at the gym to see people running (on treadmills!) in awful old shoes!! I am SO glad you found the ones that work for you! Now to just pray they don’t get discontinued! 😉

    And foam rollers are awesome! I’ve used them many times in my profession as an athletic trainer, but just purchased my first one last night as I am in preparation for my first half! Can’t wait for the good pain!

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
    I have been on a planned 12 mile run today and after 10 miles had to stop as I had severe pain in my IT band area.
    I had planned on getting a foam roller for a while and I will definitely invest in one now after hearing how much it has improved your IT band and other muscle issues.

    I have a half marathon coming up in a fortnight and so I will use the next week or so to rest before doing some lighter running before the half marathon in early March.

    • I seriously love it. I just spent a good 20 minutes using it as I just ran 6.5K on my treadmill today. It’s now a part of my after run routine. I sometimes use it on off days as well if I’ve been sitting at a desk for several hours. Does wonders. There are some good instructional videos I saw on You Tube. I was a little frustrated at first, trying to get a hang of it – especially rolling over my IT band…but I eventually got the hang of it. Take your time moving the roller and concentrate on small areas of a one big area. For example, roll the upper hip portion until you are satisfied and then change position if necessary as you are going down the IT band. Roll a portion of the leg, as opposed to the whole leg. I found this much easier.

      Good luck with you Half Marathon.

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