The Shoe Story (for Runners)
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The Shoe Story (for Runners)

The Shoe Story (for Runners)

Ten years ago, research showed that there was no evidence to show that modern running shoes prevented injuries, and such shoes should be considered “unproven technology with the potential to cause harm.”  Then in 2009,the rise in barefoot or “minimalist” running created the thinking that more traditional runners were not as good, as the minimalist shoe would make a runner adopt a more natural gait pattern.

As years go on, there is still no evidence to speak about how running shoes prevent injury—and that goes for traditional shoes, minimalist shoes, the super-cushioned maximalist shoes,or even that you should simply choose a shoe based on comfort.

The false argument that exists for the newer maximalist model states that since there is no evidence around more traditional shoes, then the newer version must be better. Also, the thinking that a more natural foot motion is best, as represented by the minimalist model, is also not backed up by evidence.  Plenty of people who properly train in these shoes report injuries.

Some researchers have argued that the best way to choose a shoe is comfort, and that your own legs have a unique“preferred movement path” that will minimize injury. There are plenty of studies that show how different types of shoes, or no shoes at all,affect the way your joints move and the forces that impact them – but no one can say if those changes actually affect injury rates.

What research actually does show is some of the best ways to avoid injury are to be cautious about how to increase the training load, and maybe to make small adjustments in running form to avoid problems such as excessive braking with muscles on the front of the thigh. 

Someone newer to running might want to try on several different shoes at their local running store to find what feels best. Running shoes should not have a “breaking in” period, so if they aren’t comfortable right out of the gate, then try a different make or model that feels good to run right away. Check with your physiotherapist for specific exercises or gait analysis to help you build up some miles safely and stay injury-free!