Dr. Ana Paula has lived and breathed sports every day since she was little, and it was because of sports that she decided to pursue her profession in orthopedics. A runner and getting ready for her first marathon, Dr. Ana Paula sees sneakers as a tool to cultivate a healthy and active lifestyle, as well as being the key tool for doing what she loves – running. The dedication and determination that she learned from the sport led her to have her own clinic and to be the current president of the Sports Medicine Society in São Paulo.
Dr. Ana Paula learned as a child the importance and benefits of practicing physical activity every day – she went through swimming, judo and today she found herself in running.
For her, sneakers are performance, and it represents this lifestyle. “For me, nowadays, sneakers can be summed up in two words: sport and health. They’re what carry me and enable me to function within the sport. Today there are models with “superpowers”, with carbon and graphene plates; we say it’s almost a technological doping because they push you forward. I think this is sensational.”
Of all the high-performance technological models she uses in her competitions, the shoe chosen for her Kickstory was her training shoe, the Olympkus Pride 2. It represents practicality and the fusion of doing sports with her daily life.
“I’m Ana Paula Simões, an orthopedic doctor, and I specialize in sports and surgery. I perform foot and ankle orthopedic surgeries, which is my specialty, but I attend to everything that is sports-related. I’m the current president of the Sports Medicine Society in São Paulo”.
Your story with sports is very inspiring. When and how did this relationship begin?
dr. ana I have always had a very close relationship with sports. My father was a journalist, and he saw the bad things that happened at night in São Paulo – murders, all sorts of cruelties, really. He’d work all night, and when he’d get home in the morning, he’d say, “my kids aren’t going to know this world that I know; they’re going to practice sports.” So every day we studied in the morning and had swimming practice in the afternoon. Every day since I was a little girl. We lived on the outskirts of the East Zone; we used to take the bus, and sometimes we didn’t have money for the bus, so we would walk halfway.
At a certain point we started enjoying what used to be an obligation. I began participating in Brazilian and South American championships, but I couldn’t go to the World Championships or the Olympics. I don’t know if it was because of my height, wingspan, maybe nimbleness, or talent, but I didn’t take off in swimming. In the meantime, I was already thinking about having a profession that would deal with athletes – like physical education, for example, but what I really wanted was medicine. Meanwhile, my brother left swimming and went into judo, so I did too. Right from the beginning, I won the State Championship…I was very rough and had no technique, so I ended up not liking it because theoretically, it was effortless (laughs); I used to grab the girls and knock them to the ground. I don’t know, judo didn’t enchant me.
And then, I think it was God, fate, something, but I got into medical school. There I found myself back in sports again. I was the only one who went to college wearing sneakers and sportswear. At school, it was like that too because my life was about practicing sports… I didn’t even know what kissing and relationships were like, I never had any alcohol, never did drugs, nothing. And in college, it was also like that. I joined the Athletic Association, practiced several sports, played all sports modalities because the girls didn’t want to play, and I was always filling in different teams.
In college, I learned that the orthopedist is the physician who deals with sports and takes care of bones and injuries, and in orthopedics, I was introduced to sports orthopedists. I followed this path and specialized in foot and ankle surgery. I put on some weight during my studies because I couldn’t do as much training as before. Medicine takes a lot of studying; it’s very demanding. My family was very simple, so to help them, I started earning money by being on call while simultaneously studying, and I stopped taking care of myself.
I was asked to be the doctor for Brazil women’s national football team during this period. I traveled the world and got a lot of sneakers (laughs). It was a lovely period, but I got a little lost in my personal life – my relationships never worked out, but my professional life was doing very well. I kept gaining weight, and I didn’t have sports as my outlet – sports were part of my professional life but not my personal life. I realized that I needed to get my life back on track. That was when I met my husband; he was my patient.
And when did running first enter your life?
dr. ana I had my first child in 2014, and after a year, I found myself weighing 95kg. I said, “I can’t do it anymore; I need to start exercising again.” I tried swimming, but I couldn’t lose weight. Then my friends said: “put on your sneakers and let’s go running.” That was when I found myself again. I lost 1kg in the first week, 2kg in the second, and so on. I progressed very well in running because I had good cardio from swimming. I took part in street races in São Paulo, won podiums, lost weight, and little by little, I started to feel good again.
You dedicate your Instagram to health and wellness, giving tips on how to prevent injuries and how treatments work. What led you to create this type of content, and what do you hope to communicate to people?
dr. ana In my sessions, people suffered a lot when I’d tell them that they had to stop running because they were injured, and I would ask myself, “Gee, why do they love running so much? I decided to study more about running and this world of an athlete’s life because I was part of it.
In 2012 I started posting on social media about injury prevention, how not to get hurt, and how to be an athlete, and I have been at it ever since. My purpose is to educate people not to get injured and, thus, to practice sports for many years.
I also like to show that I’m not at all an extremist. You will find doctors who are much more athletic than I am…. today I can’t wake up at 5am, eat 300g of meat, 3 little snacks in the afternoon, you know? I’ll have a glass of wine, a piece of chocolate, or a snack with the kids. I make these decisions because I like my life this way, lighter. Today I see many people demanding a lot from themselves regarding their body and aesthetic results, and I ask myself, is there happiness in these extremes, or is the person so robotized that they only know how to do this? For me, it’s more about health, being well, and being happy.
What is your motivation for always being physically active?
dr. ana My whole life, I’ve had the same routine: wake up and practice sports. And it has to be so automatic that you can’t think, “ah, it’s raining, so I won’t go.” No, you have to go. Go downstairs and do something, don’t see it as an obligation; it has to be enjoyable. This habit will make all the difference in people’s health. To get out of bed, you need muscles, otherwise, you become those old folks who can’t get out of their chairs – and I want to be that 70-year-old grandma you see at the bar, who’s very active. So put on your sneakers and go practice your physical activity.
And besides running, what other sports do you practice?
dr. ana I do weight training, Pilates, swimming, and I jump on the bed with my kids, which is also an exercise (laughs). The World Health Organization says that you need to do thirty minutes of physical activity a day to be a healthy person. In the pandemic, that was increased to one hour. In other words, to be considered a healthy person, you need to exercise for this amount of time every day – it’s a daily medicine that the person needs to “take,” but it’s free; you don’t pay anything. And what is physical activity? It’s to increase your heartbeat rate by 30% of what it’s your baseline.
Today, what is your relationship with sneakers?
dr. ana Sneakers in my life are everything in the sense of exercising. We didn’t have much money in my teen years, so we didn’t have access to expensive sneakers. We ended up buying the national ones – I used to put on my Olympikus and walk to practice, to school, not as physical activity, but as commuting. I was the only one in school who wore sneakers all day, worked, came back, and did everything wearing sneakers.
For me, nowadays, sneakers can be summed up in two words: sport and health. They’re what carry me and enable me to function within the sport. Today there are models with “superpowers”, with carbon and graphene plates; we say it’s almost a technological doping because they push you forward. I think this is sensational. And Olympikus made its own.
I greatly respect the national production and the employment of people within our country. Now they are looking for sustainable solutions, like using our own sugar cane and mills to produce them. It’s one of the best-selling brands in Brazil. I say – it is good, it looks good and it’s affordable.
“I greatly respect the national production and the employment of people within our country. Now they are looking for sustainable solutions, like using our own sugar cane and mills to produce them. It’s one of the best-selling brands in Brazil. I say – it is good, it looks good and it’s affordable.“
And why, out of all your sneakers, did you choose to talk about your Olympikus Pride 2?
dr. ana That is why I chose this Olympikus; to this day, it is my flagship; it’s the one that most represents me. It’s as if I were “Cinderella.” Today I consider that I’ve achieved everything I ever wanted in my life – I have my own clinic that I always dreamed of, I’m self-employed, I work whenever I want, I don’t depend on anyone, and no one tells me what to do. I’m a mother. I represent women in orthopedics. It’s a field where you don’t find many women in. We work with screws, wrenches, and drills; it’s not considered feminine. So I represent a woman who is where she wants to be, even if it’s in a predominantly male environment. Everybody is surprised that it’s a woman in orthopedics, a woman in sports, leading a society. I’m in all the places I want to be, and if someone says “no,” I’ll go and get the “yes.”
Orthopedics is a very male predominant environment. When I put on my heels to work, it’s mainly due to a social demand. To impose myself, I felt I had to wear a uniform: the lab coat and the heels to be taller. When I’d dressed in a more casual way at the hospital, the way I like to dress, in sportswear and sneakers, they’d ask me, “Whose team are you on? The nurse from where? No, I am Dr. Ana Paula, the chief of staff, the surgeon.
Now, when I arrive at the hospital, “toc-toc-toc” on my heels, with a lab coat, all pompous, they treat me differently, “hello, good evening, doctor.” But today, I’ve learned to deal with this. Sometimes I arrive at the hospital wearing sneakers when I have surgery, and nothing else is due for the day. Wanna judge? I don’t care, I’ll go ahead and operate on my patient, no big deal.
I talk a lot about this with my followers on Instagram. There are women who leave home, take the subway, go to work, and work all day, all while wearing heels, so when they arrive home, they’re exhausted. I want to show them that they can transition from heels to sneakers, that they can carry a pair in their backpacks, and wear them at least when commuting. So I show them every day, “Look, I’m taking off my heels and changing into sneakers. Have you already changed yours?
“I represent women in orthopedics. It’s a field where you don’t find many women in. We work with screws, wrenches, and drills; it’s not considered feminine. So I represent a woman who is where she wants to be, even if it’s in a predominantly male environment.“
With so much technology, do you have a specific pair for training and another for marathons?
dr. ana I have! My training sneakers are the ones that I use every day, the ones you can wear mercilessly, that are so worn out that they’re already “deformed,” accustomed to my feet, and at the same time, the harder ones, so to speak. Now, on race days, when I want to perform, pick up speed and make time, I use the lighter ones, with a lower drop and carbon plate. Olympikus launched the Corre Grafeno; it comes with a graphene plate, a material similar to carbon plate.
But for longer races, half-marathons, or marathons, I wear one with a higher drop because it needs to absorb more impact. I’m running my first marathon in November in New York. I got it from my husband as a gift for Valentine’s (laughs). We never think we are prepared to run a marathon because it’s a lot of work, and it takes a long time to train. Some practices take us up to 36 km to do the 42 km…it’s challenging work. I feel that I’ll leave a legacy by running this marathon.
And with which sneakers do you intend to run the marathon?
dr. ana So (laughs), I haven’t chosen yet. The only thing I am sure of is that it will have to be technological, with a plate. Today I have one from Olympikus, one from Nike, and one from adidas. I tried to buy the Metaspeed Sky from Asics, but it sold out very fast. But I don’t know yet. There may be a new model out by November (lol).
“One of the things I also say is: that you can’t put all the blame for your performance on the sneaker. It isn’t the sneaker that hurts you, that gives you an injury, and it isn’t the sneaker that makes you win or lose races.“
Do you feel any difference between the imported models and the national ones?
dr. ana I don’t have that fine-tuning. One of the things I also say is: that you can’t put all the blame for your performance on the sneaker. It isn’t the sneaker that hurts you, that gives you an injury, and it isn’t the sneaker that makes you win or lose races. This happens because of your muscular strength, mental capacity to overcome, biomechanics, health, weight, etc. There are so many factors and variables.
You shouldn’t put your sneakers at the center of your performance. Sometimes I’m asked, “what sneakers should I wear to prevent injuries? Which sneaker hurts less? What helps you prevent injuries is being strong, training hard, putting the blame more on yourself and not on the product. What counts is your training in the end. Sometimes people think that the imported product is better than the national one. But honestly, I have both: I run and have the same times, same performance both with the imported and national.