Uneven wear patterns / left-right imbalance (Read 106 times)


    Hi, Everyone. For background, I've been running over 10 years, have been doing one marathon/year for past 4 years (coming up in Dec), and my times have creeped up from PB of 3:52 to 3:53 and 3:54 the past 2 years. Although I'm 50, I can't accept getting slower! I was hoping to break 3:45, and maybe 3:30 someday. To make a long story short, after the last marathon, determined to get faster, I started doing sprints and quickly injured my feet and knees (left knee was already popping from an injury--confirmed lateral miniscus tear). I took a few months off and am trying to get back in marathon shape now, but am having pains in my Left ankle bone. Last but not least, I've got flat feet and have been trying minimalist running shoes for a few years to change my foot strike and minimize impact. I have worn orthotics since childhood, and wear them when using traditional running shoes (alternate with Vibram Five-fingers and Merrells). I am intending to start sprint triathlons after the next marathon, to reduce the stress on my knees and feet and strengthen the rest of my body. I do core exercises and yoga on my non-running days (usually Sun/Tue/Fri). I've got a rubber band and have started exercising my left ankle.

    My question is...I would like to know what I can learn from my shoe wear patterns. My left shoe wears out a lot at the rear left corner (heel). My right shoe wears in the middle of the heel, but a lot less. I don't notice much wear anywhere else on the shoes. This applies to both pairs of minimalist shoes as well as to my traditional running shoes (currently Asics running flats). If anyone has similar experiences or can suggest other resources that might help, I'd really really appreciate it.

    Crazy Q

    Net Neaderthal & Escapee

      Some simple truths and you've answered part of your issues already.

      No one skeletal system is perfectly symmetrical one leg is often shorter than the other and feet can vary slightly to greatly from left to right sides. Those can affect how you stride and your feet land when walking, jogging or running leading to uneven shoe wear. Another issue is that you have a injury, even when you are fully recovered the human body makes adaptations to injuries to help reduce the likelihood of reinjuring the affected limb or extremity. The uneven wear on your running shoes is a synergistic effect of how your body has adapted to running.


      In my own case I've had an impaled right knee and crushing injury to my right ankle along with fallen feet requiring the use of orthotics. I've completed a marathon a year for 3 years and progressed from a size 13 running shoe to a size 14 to accommodate the way my feet responded and adapted. The landing heel of my right shoe, also the injury affected side wear more quickly than the heel of the left shoe and the cushioning materials within break down sooner as a matter of course.


      Some increase in speed and overall reduction in your marathon time may be gained but you at what investment on your part in time and training. you might need coaching assistance and a more developed program for that.

      Wot? Run? I thought they said Rum!


        Thanks for sharing your experience. I noticed that my feet are changing, too. Both feet used to be A width and now the left one is B width. I am still hoping to change my running form as much as possible, to avoid further injuries.  If anyone has been able to do that successfully, I'd really appreciate some advice.


          With respect, you may wish to look at some of the latest research with regards to foot strike, efficiency, and injuries.   Simply changing form may not be the panacea it was once reputed to be.  Same holds true for minimalist shoes.


          Specifically, some of the recent literature suggests that running the way you run may, in fact, be the most efficient for the individual.  For example:  http://www.runnersworld.com/injury-prevention-recovery/heel-strike-uses-less-energy-than-midfoot-strike   Similarly, heel striking may not necessarily contribute to injuries in all runners.


          Since you've used orthotics since childhood, I'd be very cautious when switching to minimalist shoes and in radically changing your gait.


          What made me run faster wasn't a new shoe or gait, but rather gradually building more LSD miles and avoiding TFTS.


          Just my two cents though.  I wish you the best!

            Recently I had been having hip/hamstring problems on my left side. The bottom of my left shoe (on the rear outside of the left heel where you mentioned) was highly worn and my right was not. I went to a physical therapist. Turns out I needed an alignment. My left hip was a lot weaker than my right. She gave me hip and core strengthening exercises to do daily. I also practice balancing on one leg multiple times a day. It might be a little more involved than simply changing your form. I did shorten my stride to increase my cadence, but that alone would not have fixed my issue.

            Live the Adventure. Enjoy the Journey. Be Kind. Have Faith!


              I have balancing and strength imbalances I have been working on for several years, but got out of the habit. Yoga balance poses are also helpful and have always been the most difficult for me. I was seeing a chiropractor until a few years ago but stopped due to finances. I'm sure an an alignment would help. I am not certain about barefoot running is causing the problems or the orthotics are. I definitely like the way lighter shoes feel. I've gotten one of those "sticks" and have been rolling the ITB on my left leg especially. It is hard to know which way to go from here, but really appreciate your sharing.