I love running. It's typically the only fresh air I get in the course of the day, and I feel so much more productive on the trail than holed up in a gym. Unfortunately, my stride isn't quite right and my knees buckle slightly inward. My arch appears correct, but are a little too high in both feet. After a couple weeks of daily 5k's, I was left with shin splints. I popped a few Motrin and kept running. The shin splints got worse. My know-it-all former marathoner father insisted I ditched my beloved year-old Nike Free's and invest in an ugly gel-insole running shoe. For $120, I wasn't about to purchase something too ugly to wear confidently. Call me insecure, I guess. Finally, I compromised a little bit of fashion for little less support and settled on the bright blue Nike Dual Fusion Run Breathe. For a few weeks, the shin splints improved. But I never took a rest to let them recover in the first place. The pain returned in a month or so, and I played the motrin-popping game again until I couldn't walk normally.
I always take things a bit too far. Who has time to rest? I tried switching shoes. I tried subbing two hours of running for two hours of elliptical per week. My best efforts provided no long-lasting results and finally brought me to my knees. Finally, I was left with no choice. I couldn't even assume the resting position (“Child's Pose") in my yoga class without squealing. Two weeks off running and no cardio left me a little stir crazy. In the meantime, I desperately I searched for a fix that would keep another agonizing two week rest at bay for as long as possible. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I needed to do something different. I forced the rest for a full two weeks. I iced my sore legs twice a day and used a foam roller to massage my inner and outer calves. After week one of no rest and no physical activity whatsoever, I allowed myself an hour and a half of stationary bike and two hours of yoga during week two.
I got on BestInsoles.com for some orthopedic assistance as recommended by my runner friends. I was hoping to find a pair of insoles that would keep me from making the $300 investment in custom insoles. My fairly new Nikes have removable insoles. The sole of the shoe uses “air" compression/resistance, not comfort gel like the professionals. Clearly my vanity had stood in the way of performance. So as not to continue the re-injury cycle, I purchased a pair of Superfeet Green Insoles in a size C for my women's size 8 feet. They arrived fast and fit just right. I was worried that they might be too small for my feet because the recommended size ranged from women's size 6.5-8, but for a size 8, they fit perfectly and I didn't even need to trim them. They arrived before my two week rest period expired, but I did manage to hold off running until the two weeks was over and my shins felt normal again -- to the touch and when flexed. I was so excited, I put the insoles in my shoes right away. I removed the Nike's existing insoles and replaced them, as instructions would indicate, with the Superfeet Greens. They felt good! The insole's surface was surprisingly rigid, but my heel was cupped and high arches were fully supported. After two weeks virtually exercise-free, I hit the running trail again, this time with Superfeet as my running partner.
The shin splints did not immediately return, but I was worried that these insoles alone were a little too rigid and extreme after my first run. It takes a couple of weeks to break insoles in, so I picked up a pair of thin, plain foam insoles from CVS. You know the pair -- the cheapest, thinnest insoles you can buy at your local drug store chain. This made all the difference. For three weeks now I have been running pain-free. I wanted to run the insoles (literally) through all the gamuts of shin-splint inducing activity before I reported back to Best Insoles. It's been three weeks of sprints, 5 mile runs, as well as no- to low-impact cardio with the Superfeet Green and no re injury has occurred yet. For this runner, I wish I had found Superfeet a few months earlier! I would definitely recommend topping your Superfeet insoles with a very thin and inexpensive insole to add a little bit of softness to your run (try the $2.50 CVS Air Foam Cushioning Comfort Insoles). After a couple of weeks, your insoles will be broken in and you shouldn't require additional support. If you are hiking or walking, these insoles will make your life so much more comfortable as well as prolonging the life of your shoes! A lot of times, shoes will bottom out years before they are truly worn out. Instead of tossing a perfectly good shoe with a flat sole, reinvigorate your shoes by replacing the insoles with Superfeet!