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Minimalistic shoes -
Be prepared for maximalistic calf  / achillies pain!

These days it seems runners are becoming more interested in migrating to a lighter, lower profile, more minimalistic running shoe, and although I am in favor of such a change for some runners, it's good to be aware of the consequences of such a change rather than jumping in with both feet!  

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Try this simple test - 

Line yourself up behind your shoes, take a mental 'snap shot' as to how you feel from the feet up, then stand your heels on the forefoot section of the shoes and feel the difference. Your heel feels higher up, more pressure onto the balls of your feet, even your pelvic adjusts and drops forward. This is the most simple way to get familiar with the anatomical changes that occur the minute we step into a typical pair of running shoes which often have a disproportionate heel.

The average heel size can span from  25mm to 35mm (3.5 cm we're talking Louboutins!)  Over your running lifetime, your calves have become used to performing at a shortened length in relation to your running shoe. Any sudden change to a minimalistic running shoe (or a low ramp angle shoe) will expose your calves to function to a length it hasn't ever functioned at before (could be an extra 3.5cm!),  thus certainty of muscle reaction is common, whether calf pain or Achilles tendon pain. 

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Standing on the front deck of the shoes gives you a simple yet effective understanding how your running shoes effect your posture when you running. High ramp angled shoes feature a higher heel platform with a reduction towards the forefoot. This inturn causes the calf to function at a shortened length. Imagine exposing your calf to working to a further 3cm in length, 1700 steps a mile... 

My advice therefore is simple, migrating to any change in running shoe heel size must be done slowly, run for no more than 5 minutes at a time, adding 5 minutes every other time you run. Foam rolling your calves for 5 to 10 minutes every day will promote great flexibility.  Always try to plan such a migration out of peak training period, be extra cautious of such a dramatic change of footwear if you have a history of Achillies or Calf pain.  


Use these to read further spotlights

Heel Striking
Forefoot running
Minimalist running
Walking lunges
Pelvic instability
Hamstring strengthening
Why stretch
Runners knee ITB
Single leg squats
Glutes, are you standing comfortably?
Squat test
Migrating to a minimalist shoe
Richard Whitehead Paralympic 200m
Medial Shin Splints
The cumulative effect
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