'Daddy needs a new pair of shoes!'

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. David Liapis
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Running. There are few words in the English language that can evoke a wide range of emotions and carry so many meanings - "the refrigerator is running," "my nose is running," "you're running up the electric bill," " I love (or hate) running" and the list goes on.

However, within the context of the Air Force, running generally refers to a cardiovascular activity some Airmen love, some tolerate and many hate. For more than half of my decade-long career I shifted between the latter two options, dreading the yearly assessment and practicing just enough to get the score I wanted - a 90 so I didn't have to test again for another year.

I don't know everybody's reasons for why they might not like running, but I know for me the reason can be summed up with one word - pain.

As a result, I have spent far too many hours in a doctor's office having my knees and feet poked and twisted, or subjecting my body to unnecessary radiation.

Let's take a look back at where this tale of woe began...

When I arrived at Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base in 2004, I was handed a new pair of shoes - the exact same kind that every trainee received. The problem is, not everyone has the same needs when it comes to footwear. What's worse is that most people don't know that fact. Regardless, we ran. Then there was technical school, where we ran even more.

I spent the next seven years suffering from what was sometimes debilitating pain resulting from shin splints, arch strains and various knee issues. It was not until 2010 after a Mountain Home AFB Health and Wellness Center staff member encouraged me to visit a store that specialized in running shoes where I could have a gait analysis done that I found the specific help I needed.

I drove the hour and change up to Boise, Idaho and found the suggested shop. The salesman had me run barefoot on a treadmill while he videotaped my footfalls. After watching the replay in slow motion, "severe pronation" was the diagnosis. I put on the running shoes I had at the time - a pair of typical $40 department store specials such as those I had been wearing since day one - and was assessed again. I cringed as I reviewed the tape. My ankles "crushed" in so much it looked like it hurt; and for good reason - it did!

The salesman fitted me to a pair of "stability" shoes and rechecked my stride on the treadmill. The difference was obvious. My ankles remained straight and my "toe off" and "heel strike" were dead on.

Guess what? Daddy got a new pair of shoes! I was hesitant because the price was more than $100, but I decided it was worth it to see if I could find relief.

The change was remarkable. Within a month, I was running pain-free. I began preaching the gospel of gait analysis and expensive running shoes to anyone who would listen. I had found a new love - running.

I'm not saying that everyone who has their footfalls assessed and then drops at least a Benjamin on a pair shoes will be miraculously healed of all physical pain. However, I am saying that it might be worth your while to at least visit the HAWC, physical therapist or a sports store where you can have a gait analysis done and see what your personal footwear needs really are.

Not everyone loves or even wants to run. But in the Air Force, it's a requirement on which our careers depend. Don't let something as simple as having the wrong pair of shoes prevent you from enjoying getting out, feeling the wind on your face and maintaining a level of physical readiness expected of an Airman.

Contact your primary care provider or the HAWC to discuss any running related issues or any other medical concerns you might have.