Eighteen-year-old Benjamin Pachev of Utah placed 16th in the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in May all while running in a $20 pair of Crocs.
Crocs, a rubber clog, aren’t usually a runner’s go-to when deciding in which pair of shoes to run a distance race. It worked for Pachev and his 44-year-old father, Sasha Pachev, a software engineer, who also ran in a pair of Crocs.
Their choice of unconventional running shoes, and success, generated some notoriety across the country.
But Dr. Brandon Gumbiner of the Indiana Podiatry Group, who has been in practice for seven years, discourages other runners from following in the Pachevs’ footsteps.
“Don’t do it,” Gumbiner said. “I can’t recommend doing that. I can’t recommend the bare minimalist running shoes. Certainly, there are people that do it, and they do fine. But the American Podiatric Medical Association actually put out a statement a few years ago that as as podiatrist, we shouldn’t be recommending that shoe gear, and I stand behind that.”
Gumbiner has witnessed people suffer from stress fractures, tendinitis and plantar fasciitis all from not wearing the appropriate shoes. Shin splints are also a common nuisance for runners.
Shin splints are caused by the pulling of the muscle from where it attaches to the bone. Around every bone is a layer called the periosteum, and the muscle attaches itself to that layer. A shin splint occurs when the muscle gets tight because of overuse and begins to cause inflammation when it starts to pull at the bone attachment.
Gumbiner said stretching is the No. 1 thing runners can do to prevent shin splints, but they also need to make sure they are in protective shoe gear.
“If you’re not in supportive shoe gear or maybe not wearing an insert, and you tend to pronate or flatten out, it’s going to put more strain and pull on the tendon or muscle attached to the bone,” Gumbiner said. “So you’re more likely to get shin splints.”
The best running shoe to buy depends on the runner’s foot structure and the type of running the athlete is planning on doing. The top five shoe brands Gumbiner has faith in are Brooks, New Balance, Saucony, Asics and Mizuno.
The actual shoe within the brand still depends on the individual. Different shoes are made for different foot structures within each brand.
“Brooks, the Brooks Beast or the Brooks Ariel is the most supportive shoe on the market,” Gumbiner said. “So someone who pronates a lot, someone who flattens out, is going to do better in that shoe. But if you have someone who doesn’t pronate much or flatten out to wear that shoe, they’d be in a ton of pain. So the Brooks Glycerin is more of a flexible shoe that’s going to provide more cushion.”
The top five shoe brands for runners, as recommended by podiatrist, Dr. Brandon Gumbiner: