Article - 11.10.05

My quest for the right running shoes

It all began when my left leg had ITB problems.  Visits to the physiotherapist and hundreds of ringgit did help.  However, my foot kept feeling cramped and it had that ‘tired’ feeling and, I had to deal with runner’s toe as well.  They weren’t pretty – my second left and third left toes were black and beyond repair.  It’s a waiting game of anticipating when the dead nails will come off before I have nice toe nails again.

I looked at my running shoes - I bought men’s because I needed the broad and large feet room.  Yes, I’m one of those unfortunate Asians born with broad, flat feet which I think would never appear in any feet commercial.   I couldn’t find any answer as to why with so much room at the front, I’m having problems.  To cut the story short, I was plain puzzled and frustrated at the same time.  I paid close to RM500 for my Asics and my other pair of Adidas weren’t cheap either.  I over-pronate .  So, I needed certain types of shoes – so, I thought. 

My internet search for a solution led me to read up more about Podiatry and what a Podiatrist can do to help someone like yours truly.  The list of podiatrist in KL or for that matter, in Malaysia isn’t long.  You can Wikipedia search to find what podiatry is all about –I won’t dwell on it here.  As I was going back to Ipoh and there was one podiatrist in Ipoh, I gave her a call.  She asked me to visit her home as she does not have an official clinic as of yet. 

Off I went and I was thoroughly surprised – to say the least.  She has allocated one bedroom to be her consultation clinic and all her equipment was nicely arranged.  I didn’t know so much equipment was involved but I do now.  There’s a machine that helps take away rough skin and pare off thick toe nails.  There’s a machine that sanitizes shoes.  The chair for the patient (looks like the ones you lie on when you go see a dentist) was super comfortable.  Then, there were different tools for cutting different types of nails and etc.  The podiatrist also has her home-made concoction of foot cream which helped eased my dry feet as well!

I told my story and she looked at me from top to toe – i.e. whether I had a leg that was shorter than the other, whether my shoulders and breasts were level, hips, knees and etc.  She didn’t use any equipment; it was all based on her years of experience in podiatry.  She looked at my feet and explained why there were bunions on both my feet.   She could also tell that I my left hip is sort of not aligned and thus, weaker.

Anyway, she came up with a solution.  I did bring all my running shoes for her to see.  She took one glace at all of them and told me to chuck it all away.  If you could see my face then……..I was speechless.   She said, “What you need is a pair of shoes from Tesco and I’ll fit you with a customized insole.  It will solve your problem.  Do you trust me?”    That was a tough question to answer.  I told her I over-pronate and I don’t think Tesco’s neutral shoes would help.  She asked me again, “Do you trust me? “   

I said to myself that I had nothing to lose; so, why not give Tesco and her a chance?  She then began to measure and fit the insole to my feet.  She added wedges and foam to the bottom of the sole; and I had to tell her what feels good and what does not.  She didn’t do much on my right but there were a lot of adjustment to the left.  Finally, it was done.  I couldn’t really test it out until I make a visit to Tesco.  The exercise I would need to do is to wear the new pair of shoes with the fitted sole for several hours each day and increase the hours each day.  After one week, I need to run in those shoes.   Cost of the custom-made sole: RM120.  Consultation: RM120.  Total: RM240.   I have no complains. 

I went to Tesco Damansara to search for that shoe.  Found the cheapest pair with wide room at the front.  Cost: RM20.   Hence, my journey began.  I wore them for four hours the first day – felt ‘achy’ but that was expected (according to the podiatrist).  What she was trying to do was to correct the ‘defect’ and encourage the correct muscles to work as it should.   Anyway, I faithfully wore them every day for a week.  The ‘achy’ feeling left in a couple of days.  

The day came when I could test those shoes – 5km at Bukit Aman.  It felt odd because the Tesco shoes did not have all those ‘bells’ and ‘whistles’.  No gel either.  I had more flexible movement and I could feel the bottom.  No pain and my left toes felt good.  Next morning, it was 10km on Double Hill.  Felt even better.  I was beginning to see hope. 

As I’m writing this article, the Tesco shoe had gone through 60 plus km(s) with routes on Double Hill, Bird Park and Hartamas.  I’ve gone back to see the podiatrist as a follow-up last week.  She made some further adjustments to my left sole and it felt even more comfortable now.  No ITB problems, no overtired or achy feeling from my left feet.   By the way, the last consultation costs RM80.  

So, am I convinced that Tesco shoes work?  Darn right I do.   Total breakdown of cost:

First visit:  RM120 (consultation); RM120 ( sole)
Second follow-up visit: RM80
Tesco Shoes: RM20
Total: RM340.   

It’s cheaper than my pair of Asics and it solved my problem.
I’m not saying that branded shoes are not good – don’t get me wrong.  If it works for you, by all means, continue with them.  All I’m saying is that if you are having problems and still have not found what is right for you, you should perhaps think about consulting a podiatrist and get proper advice, before investing in another pair of branded shoes or any pair for that matter. 

Run Happy and Run Well. 
Pacesetter Member No: 5408