Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Neoprene Ankle Protectors

Subtitle: Trying to become more normal

For over 20 years now, and that is a long time, Marcus has worn Neoprene Ankle protectors for any and every run.

How it all started
Over two decades ago when I was 20 years younger into my running career, I folded my ankle several times whilst trail running.  I mean for example, on the right foot, your foot pushes outwards, and the bottom of your foot, the sole point upwards.  There is also a loud cracking or snapping sound as your tendons give way.

A few hours later your ankle will have swollen so large that you cannot wear any shoe and about 1 week later, if you are lucky you will be mostly recovered.

Some Advantages [or wearing Neoprene]
- Very difficult to fold over your ankle
- Keeps feet quite warm in winter weather
- Provides extra cushioning, much gentler on joints whilst running

Some Disadvantages
- Seamless neoprene protectors are in 2016, very difficult to find
- You need to buy a slightly larger shoe size
- Your foot heel and toes are not in the neoprene sock, and hence don't quite touch the shoe inner, meaning your body weight is badly distributed and also there is less 'feel' to the running shoe
- It's a real faff in races.  For example in triathlon you lose time in transition, or say whilst entering a house, you need to take of the shoes and protectors.  Really this is the principle annoyance!
- Marginally heavier combination i.e. weight of protectors!
- Whilst the protectors do what they say, they protect your ankles, it also means that you run the risk of your ankles remaining weak.  For Marcus, I recognise that my historically weak ankles have never strengthened because the neoprene has been providing the support.  Too late to change?

Too late to change?

In order not to shock my feet into a quick trip to the hospital  for the last month I gradually stopped wearing the neroprene protectors.

Since I have perfectly flat feet I have to been even more careful when changing any running foot parameter.

Nevertheless I have continued and for the last 3 weeks I have been neoprene free!

Using the above Salomon S-Lab ultra light trail shoes the improvement in shoe to foot fit has been immediate.   The shoes now fit like a glove and on short runs i.e. less than 20Km, I seem to be flying along

Early days, but no ankle folds on the last few forest runs over uneven surfaces.  Not much of a test, but slowly does it.

- Today I have (at last) more time to experiment
- So, at last I'm trying to strengthen my ankles
- Stop using those Neoprenes
- Become more normal and stop with that faff!