Does the cushioning in running shoes prevent injuries, or are they using a myth to sell us their next shoe?

Does the cushioning in running shoes prevent running injuries, or are they using a myth to sell us their next shoe?

If you have purchased a running shoe lately, you may notice that over the last several years, designs have changed. You may buy a certain shoe or new design because of how their cushioning may help prevent running injuries.

The narrative of cushioning your impact and how they do it is selling shoes.  Some shoes do it with an air cushion (Nike), while others use a technology that increases the amount of bounce (Adidas) while others are using new designs that have a wider point of impact with a deeper pocket for your foot to fit into (Hoka).

You may agree, or disagree with which shoe works best for you and if it can prevent running injuries in the future. Injuries from running are caused by repetitive impact.  It seems reasonable that if we reduce the force of impact through the shoe, we are less likely to experience the next painful running injury that prevents us from running and interrupts our training.  The problem is, do we understand why we impact the ground so hard for us, while other runners have fewer or no problems?

Impact is a function of gait, habits and the way we move.   If we have poor gait habits or are built a certain way, we may not use our core to stabilize which places the force of running through the legs and to the ground.  Buffering that effect may reduce the pain from impact, however, our habits, body mechanics and other contributors to high impact are still present.

Can we expect a shoe to correct this?  Would we do better with a shoe that absorbs impact and perhaps a corrective device such as a foot orthotic which will improve our core function and improve our gait?

Most runners have little understanding of why they hurt and may blame the next injury on running too fast, too soon, or too much miles which may be a valid idea, however, other runners may do what we do and never have a problem.   Are we doing something wrong, or is there something perhaps we do not understand about our body style and what is unique about us as a runner.   Some of these answers are discussed in the book, Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain which is available through

The discussion on how to change a gait from a high impact to a lower impact gait will require more than a shoe, or an orthotic.  It will require muscle work, retraining, orthotics, exercises, manipulation of the spine and extremity and dare I say it, a great sports chiropractor.  Check out this previous blog post that discusses why impact occurs what you can do about it here.

Here is an article that challenges convention on running shoes and takes on the shoe companies and their impact resistant shoes.


By Marc Bain July 10, 2018

Anyone who has run enough years knows the perils of “runner’s knee” or shins plints. And so running-shoe makers have devoted huge quantities of time and money over the past few decades to developing—and advertising—technologies that are supposed to make for a safer, injury-free run.

One main area of their focus has been cushioning, which is supposed to reduce the force that ricochets up your leg each time your foot hits the ground, leading to an endless series of squishy foams used to make sneaker midsoles. The other big one is motion control. When your foot lands during its stride, it will naturally pronate, or roll slightly inward to distribute the impact. Many people “overpronate,” so footwear manufacturers devised shoes that correct for this issue and force your foot to land in a “neutral” position.

There’s just one problem: There’s no definitive, research-based evidence that either feature actually reduces running injuries, according to Simon Bartold, a well-known sports podiatry and biomechanics expert.

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