Ask Sock Doc!


Dear Sock Doc: I am in the Army, so running has become a part of my life so to speak. I overpronate when I run, but only get shinsplints when I do a lot of miles a week or run everyday. I usually run every other day to avoid injuries).I recently purchased Brooks Pure Cadences and while they are comfy just for wearing, when I run two miles or more I notice that my calves/Achilles tendon get tighter or even lockup mid run. This usually goes away after a 10 minute stretch. I usually wear shoes that help out my flat footedness, but recently decided to run minimal. I have a heel-to-toe stride, so this mid foot or toe running is a bit new to me. My main question is, when my leg locks up from this running with the Brooks Pure Cadences, should I take it as a workout (i.e. this is a normal reaction to a new type of running and it will get better with time) or should I get worried and drop the shoe and go back to what I’m used to?

Sock Doc replies: I get lots of questions from military guys.Those shoes are a 22-17mm stack height which is pretty thick, though only a 5mm drop which is not too bad. But your calves should never lock up on you, regardless of how flat your foot is (and you don’t need any arch support for flat feet). So you should not take it as a workout; instead, you should try a different pair of shoes and evaluate your training to make sure you’re aerobic. You say “go back to what you’re used to” but I hope that doesn’t mean a shoe with even more support. I think you might like the New Balance Minimus Trail shoes – not the new zero-drop MT00 but the MT10 which is a 15mm-11mm stack and much more firm than the Brooks you’re wearing. Good for trails too.


Dear Sock Doc: I’m currently on a plant based diet (8 months) and eat (what I think) is a clean diet. I eat oatmeal in the morning followed by a big green smoothie about two hours later with a salad for lunch (apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast and hemp seeds for dressing). Dinner is usually a homemade pizza with lots of avocado. I usually eat cashews when I get home from work before my runs. 
I have issues though that seem to only be resolved for short periods before they return. Mild outer thigh discomfort  and some patella discomfort (both have been around for about 5 months). Nothing to stop me but it’s there and it’s annoying. I want to run ultras but whenever I get my mileage above 40 things start to degrade.
 My background:
I run about 10 miles a week barefoot (split between 2 runs); rock climb (bouldering once a week and routes once or twice a week); and I run mostly aerobic .
My aerobic base is solid but I can’t get the mileage up even with complete aerobic.
Do you think it’s the diet? Can I make being vegan work or even vegetarian (add eggs) cut out grains?
 Your response is so very appreciated!

Sock Doc replies: Well I like the dedication to your diet. Most people think I hate vegans and vegetarians. I don’t. I just don’t think it works for most people. Sure there are people like Scott Jurek who is an unbelievable athlete and 100% vegan, so I guess it’s working for him. Maybe he has nagging health problems none of us know about. What it comes down to is that you need to find the diet that works best for you and right now you’re having some issues that could very well be linked to diet – inadequate protein perhaps, or maybe you don’t do well with the grains (but that would take even more out of your diet).


Dear Sock Doc: I found your site about 2 weeks ago after realizing that past 6 months I’ve spent trying to heal my Achilles Tendonitis hasn’t been working (boot/crutches, orthotics, physical therapy, 12mm running shoes, stretching – the works). So after reading your articles, I ditched the orthotics, stopped stretching, got The Stick, and bought a pair of Nike Free Run + (8mm), cut way down on caffeine, sugar, white flour. I’ve been wearing the Nike Frees nonstop outside the house, and started walking barefoot when I’m home. I started balancing barefoot at home, and doing some strengthening at the gym in the Nike Frees, but then I started feeling pain in my heel bone just underneath my ankle on the outer-portion of my foot (calcaneus?). It’s gotten a little worse over these past few days; it hurts when I walk barefoot, and it’s much better in shoes. But I sometimes get a ‘numb’ feeling in my heel. Is it possible I’m transitioning too quickly?

Sock Doc replies: Nice work turning everything around for the better. You’ll want to look for trigger points in those calves as I show in my Achilles Tendonitis video and the Foot Pain videos.  Probably the points are 1-3 inches up from the heel area where you feel the pain. Could be elsewhere though. If you have less pain in the shoes then stay in those until you’re pain-free. No need to rush it though. It sounds like you’re getting some Achilles issues just in a different spot as your tendon adjusts (it naturally lengthens with less drop in a shoe). Compression socks can help a lot here too.


Have a question for Sock Doc, aka Dr. Steve Gangemi, let us know, or visit his website where you’ll find answers to many of your running, health and injury-related questions.


2 Responses to “Ask Sock Doc!”

  1. Mark says:

    I think I have Sciatic pain.But I can stretch,no problem,and no pain.But when I try to walk,my right pressure point of my glute hurts down through my thigh,and over my knee.The doctor at the hospital prescribed Percoset,and Motrin,and Ive already finished the Percoset with some level of comfort,btu not complete.I don’t know if I have a disc problem,but I haven’t had any X-rays,yet.

  2. Matthew says:

    Dr. Gangemi,

    Your articles and posts are very educational, and I appreciate your input.

    Three weeks ago, I felt a slight pain on the bottom of my foot, just behind my little (5th) toe. I adjusted my foot fall, and it went away. However, I would feel it, briefly for a couple strides, over the next several runs. I would adjust, and it would go away. I thought maybe my shoes has reached their mileage limit.

    I purchased new shoes (Brooks PureDrift), but the pain was occurring more often. It is sharp, but there is no swelling or discoloration. So, I continued to run on it, approx. 45 mi/wk. I started to notice a tenderness in my lower ankle, along with outer side, especially in the morning. Concentrating on the pain in my foot by the toe, I thought it might be a blister underneath the callise. I made two cuts in the callise to lessen the pressure, and the pain went away…for a day.

    I have found it is less (or no pain) to walk barefoot or in Vibrams (I have not run in them to this point), than shoes. I fact, wearing shoes puts pressure on the pain, seeming to excacerbate it. I tried running this morning (Monday), after taking the weekend off (ran 11 on Friday), but my ankle felt week and the pain behind the 5th toe was back. It doesn’t get worse the more I run, but my gait is altered, and I was definitely uneven running up the street.

    The spot behind the toe is tender when I push on it, and my ankle is definitely sore. I stopped my run 2 minutes in this morning, for fear of causing a more serious injury. Another concern is, however, that simply not running on it won’t fix it.

    Like most runners, I am already anxious about taking another day off running, and prefer not to visit the non-runner doctor or orthopedist. I am 38, run approx. 45 mi/wk, and wear low-heal drop shoes. I’m all in favor of running in Vibrams if that keeps in on the road, but am not a barefoot purist…I prefer to wear minimal shoes.

    Any ideas? I appreciate any input!



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