An interesting study was recently published online in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. The Luxembourg researchers tried to determine if running with different shoes reduced the risk of injury for recreational runners. Of the 264 participants, 87 (approximately 1/3) experienced at least one running-related injury during the 22 week period. The primary finding was that the parallel use–essentially alternating days of different shoe use–of more than one pair of running shoes reduces the risk of running-related injuries.
Why does alternating shoe type reduce the risk of injury? Just like running on different surfaces and running with different running styles changes the stresses the body experiences, using different shoes imposes different stresses to the body. It is almost a method to injury-proof your lower body (understanding that truly injury-proofing is impossible). Said differently, using different shoes prepares your body to the various stresses your body encounters while running.
Other interesting findings that ALL runners need to read and re-read. Participating in other sports (also known as cross training) reduces the risk of running-related injuries. I appreciate runners like to run and are not huge fans of cross training, but doing so significantly reduces the risk of injury. In addition, something I tell all athletes, if you want to reduce your risk of any injury, don’t get hurt in the first place (that involves proper training, strengthening, etc . . . but that’s a conversation for another day); this study’s authors support that statement as they found that previous injury increases the risk of running-related injuries.
So give the parallel use of different running shoes a try, but do so smartly, gradually. If you’re used to a given model, perhaps introduce a new model with different support properties for a short distance, gradually increasing the distance of the new, different model.