By Kate Caetano, Rehabilitation Podiatrist

Many runners will know the frustration of quickly wearing through the mesh of their shoes. Sometimes it doesn’t take long at all until they are seeing their big or pinky toes poking through, or feeling their Achilles rubbing on the shoe counter at the back.

Why does this happen?!

Well, the simple answer is that your foot is moving against the shoe’s pathway and causing friction or pressure, the fabric gives way … and you end up replacing perfectly good shoes way too often.

The long answer is each hole represents a block in your body’s kinetic chain movements.

A hole above your big toe most likely means you are lacking the range of motion to move efficiently, thus you may compensate in a variety of other ways. If your big toe can’t extend and flex enough to push through during ‘toe off’, you will avoid using it and lift it instead, causing it to poke through the top. Otherwise, you may not run through your aligned hip, knee, and ankle because your hip is not stable. This causes the knee to collapse in and block you from using the big toe for propulsion and instead roll off the side.

A hole on the outer side of your pinky toe means you are either in a poorly fitted shoes: not wide enough and your foot hangs off the edge, too wide and your foot slides around and bangs the sides or you are twisting outwards instead of going linear through your foot, causing the foot to constantly be hit the sides of the mesh and wearing them away.

A hole at the back against your Achilles Tendon likely means you are slipping in and out of your shoe when you run. This can be because the shoe is not secure, in this case, a ‘lock lacing’ technique is helpful. Or you do not have the ankle flexibility to progress through your body and so ‘lift’ the heel early with every step instead, causing excessive rubbing. Otherwise, if you do not undo your lacings when taking off and putting on your shoes, it will cause them to deform and rip the heel counters. If you take care of your shoes, they will last longer (makes sense!). A few seconds can save hundreds of dollars in unnecessary replacements.

A good test you can do to check if you have enough range of motion for running is to:

  • Position yourself facing a wall 10 cms from the wall.
  • Lower yourself into a squat, trying to touch the wall with your forward knee, keeping the heel of your bent knee still flat on the ground.

Can you do it? Sweet as if yes!  You probably have enough range of motion—and your shoes should be intact. If your heel comes up or your knee doesn’t meet the wall, your range of motion is limited and needs some work.

If you would like to talk to me in more detail about your range of motion, your running style or gait retraining, please phone the clinic on 834 9901 to make an appointment.

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