I ran; I ran like any soldier would. I ran til it hurt. I felt this sharp, fiery, stinging sensation on the outside of my knees. I tried to walk it off, I tried running slowly without bending my knees. My platoon sergeant noticed and sent me straight to the doctor.
One of the first lessons they taught us in the Army was to take care of your feet. You take care of your feet by buying the proper kind of running shoes for your feet whether it be for stability, cushion, or support. Another way to care for your feet is to make sure that the shoes you are wearing are serviceable. I had the wrong definition of serviceable.
What does serviceable mean? It doesn’t mean that you run in your shoes until they fall apart. It doesn’t mean that you wear them until there is a style you like better. It doesn’t mean that you wear your shoes until you can afford more. Serviceable means that your shoes provide support for the activity that you wear them for. This is most important when you are talking about running shoes.
The doctor walked in. I described the pain I was having in my knees. It was likely inflammation of my LCL. He asked me how old my shoes were. My shoes, doc, we’re talking about my knees here! “About 11 months old,” I replied. “Get some new shoes,” he said very matter-of-factly. “You should change out your running shoes every six months,” he detailed. The amount of running that we did in the Army dictated this.
The problem was the heel of my shoe. When most people run, they strike the ground heel first. I strike the ground first with the outside corner of my heel. This causes the outside corner of my running shoes to wear faster than the rest of my shoes. When the wear gets to a certain point, it takes your knees out of alignment and puts unnecessary stress on the outside of your knees.
After my encounter with the doctor I used to go around looking at the backs of other soldier’s boots. I can still remember some guys walking around in combat boots with heels that were worn to literally a 45 degree angle. It makes my knees hurt just thinking about them. The rule was that if you could slip a pencil under this gap created by uneven heel wear, while your foot is on the ground, then your boots were no longer serviceable.
That was the past, 2001 to be exact. Fast forward to 2016. Shoe designers are starting to learn that shoes with heels change your bodies’ natural alignment. Enter the zero-drop shoe. A zero-drop shoe keeps your foot level to the ground. It means that your heel sits lower in these shoes and reduces or even eliminates heel striking.
My first pair of zero-drop shoes were a pair of running shoes by Altra, the Instinct 3.5 to be exact. I have been wearing them for around 5 months now, even doing a little running and completed a local 5K, the Buffalo Boogie, in them and they have almost no heel wear. I also wear them to work on Fridays and I stay on my feet for most of the day.
Knowing what I did about running shoes I wanted to find a pair of good-looking dress shoes that were zero-drop as well. I looked and what I found was expensive and ugly. Then, I stumbled upon the Lems nine2fives and not only did they look great, but they feel great, and are great for your body. Now I can wear dress shoes all day and my feet feel like I have been wearing comfortable shoes because they are comfortable shoes.