Does increased cushioning in a running shoe prevent foot or running injuries?
A popular running web site addresses the questioning of whether or not more cushioning in a running shoe will help decrease running injuries. While better cushioning will help absorb shock at the ground, it will not help someone who has poor body mechanics and an inefficient running style run more softly, even though logically it should. The problem is, what someone has core issues due to body style issues, their pelvis will distort and they will have a shorter stride that under and over strides and they will have a hard heel strike. Cushioning the blow will allow them to run more like this but they will still be more inclined to have problems from running unless something is done to improve their body mechanics; such as foot orthotics and myofascial release to improve pelvic function which will help increase flexibility and symmetry.
Of course, barefoot runners and other minimalist types run with even less cushioning and some believe that there is a spring mechanism that protects those running barefoot to absorb the shock. In my brief experience running with Vibram shoes, the impact to the treadmill was much harder with the vibrams vs. me running with my regular running shoes as well as my orthotics. On the other hand, some have fewer problems running barefoot so perhaps there is a criteria we need to develop to figure out who should and who should not run with traditional running shoes. I do not believe one size fits all but for now, it is best if we understand our bodies and by trial and error, figure out the best way for us to run.
Read that article on RunnersConnect below.
Does the Amount of Cushioning in Your Running Shoe Reduce Impact Force and Injury Risk?
We’ve talked a lot about shoes—how to find the right ones, when to get new ones, and whether lightweight ones can help you run faster when you race.
One issue we haven’t addressed yet, though, is a very simple intrinsic property of a shoe: how thick (or cushioned) should your running shoe be?
Running shoes and your feet
A shoe’s thickness affects how it interacts with the ground, but it’s more complicated than you might think.
Shoe companies and biomechanics researchers used to evaluate the cushioning of a shoe by measuring the impact force on a weight dropped from a standard height onto the heel of the shoe. But before long, scientific research demonstrated that this was an inadequate model of how shoe cushioning works while you’re actually running.
We’ve learned about this phenomenon in previous articles on the relationship between running surface and leg stiffness, but we should review how your body deals with various surfaces underneath your feet.
- To maintain an efficient stride over a variety of terrain underfoot (whether that terrain includes muddy grass, hard pavement, cushy shoes, or a track spikes), your body will adjust the overall stiffness of your legs so that the net stiffness of the entire system supporting your weight—your legs, any insert or orthotic you wear, your shoes, and the ground—remains constant.
- So, with a thick, cushioned shoe underfoot, your leg stiffness will go up to compensate, and when you are wearing thin shoes (or none at all), your leg stiffness will go down. The same applies to running on hard or soft surfaces.
Your body’s ability to actively modulate the stiffness of your legs means that impact forces are the same over a wide variety of shoe and ground cushioning conditions, because the joints and muscles of your leg can ameliorate the impact when there’s less cushioning in your shoes or on the ground.