Do you think new shoes are expensive? I just spent $1000 on chiropractic, medicine, and massage after wearing shoes too long.
I have a bad habit of being frugal when it comes to buying athletic gear. I prefer “frugal” to “cheap”, because cheap makes me feel… well, cheap. Maybe the problem is I’m a guy. Maybe it has to do with my mother telling me when I was younger that I didn’t really need the new expensive shoes because “people used to wear one pair of shoes for every sport and they still set records.” I don’t know why that stuck with me all these years, but I still hear that advice as I’m shopping for running shoes. Thankfully, I didn’t really take that advice to heart, but it may have impacted how long I feel I should hang onto running shoes. But I have learned over the past few years, that new shoes are cheap compared to what I’m paying to see the doctor.
The problems started when I picked up competitive running again several years ago. I used to be able to run until the balls of my feet were sticking through the outsole of the shoe. Then, in my 30’s, I realized not only did I need more cushioning, but I also need motion control. I found this out after a nasty incidence of plantar fasciitis. I was in a good pair of shoes that weren’t really made for my running type. Not only that, but I ran in them too long. You know where the story goes from here. Getting out of bed and stepping down was a nightmare. Trying to run was nearly impossible. I tried all the rehabilitiation exercises suggested by my podiatrist, physical therapist, and chiropractor. It ultimately took a few months of no running, while also getting the foot injections, to finally overcome the problem.
As soon as I was able to run again, I went to a good running store to see if they had anything that would help. The first thing they noticed was I was in the wrong type of shoes. The old shoes looked great, but were hurting my body. They were worn out and causing my body to perform inefficiently. But hey, I got them at a great price! I think they were on sale. So the staff put me in a new pair and said “start logging your mileage.” Their other piece of advice changed my shoe buying habit forever. They said, “If your body starts hurting in your calves, hamstrings, or lower back, stop using them!” It’s funny, because now when I start to get a pain, I realize that it’s a good chance that my shoes are getting worn out, not that I’m not stretching enough. Typically, once I put on the new pair, the problem quickly dissipates.
So how do “expensive” shoes compare? For guys like me, it’s a simple math equation now. I went back into my Quicken register to all up all the medical expenses during that bout of injury. I spent close to $1000 on medical treatments. And that was just in co-pays and treatments not covered by insurance. We are talking chiropractic visits, massage therapy, medications, physical therapy, injections, and follow up visits. From a cost standpoint, NOT buying a $140 pair of shoes cost me a lot more in the long run. And that’s not to mention the time I spent NOT training and gaining weight by sitting around the house.
Trust me on this one, the high quality shoes from a running store where the staff knows what they are talking about can be priceless.
By the way, if your doctor also says you need orthotics, don’t second guess him. Custom orthotics can be pricey, but can also change your life. I don’t have any solid numbers to back that one up, but just know that people who spent years studying the human body probably know a lot more than the rest of us when it comes to how our feet function during exercise!