Does the running shoe reduce injuries? Experts weigh in.
I found this thoughtful article about choosing a running shoe. Which shoe style is best?
Best running shoes? No fast answer, experts say
If the return of cooler weather across the nation motivates you to begin running or to pick up where you left off, your first step might be to invest in new shoes.The choice now can be bewildering with all the lightweight, flexible shoes flooding the stores and posing a stark contrast to the traditional, heavily cushioned, rigid ones.
Running shoes fuel annual sales of more than $5 billion. A good pair costs you $100 to $140 whether stiff or flexible. Take your time deciding, medical experts and researchers say, or you could be dealing with an injury that becomes chronic or takes months to heal.
The new generation of lighter shoes has minimal cushioning across the bottom. The shoes are flexible front to back and side to side and have lower heels. Their design springs from the barefoot running craze and is based on a technology for runners who are midsole or forefoot strikers, meaning they strike first with that part of their foot. This style of running became trendy after Christopher McDougall’s wildly popular 2009 book, Born to Run, about Tarahumara Indians who run 150-miles plus at a time in Mexican canyons, where they live,
with only the lightest of support on their feet. McDougall, who had many injuries as a “shod” runner, embraced barefoot running.
Traditional shoes are mostly for heel-to-toe strikers, dating back to the early 1970s when the first waffles started appearing on the bottom. Gradually more and more cushioning and support were added, first under the heel and then into the mid and front part of the shoe to protect the foot from impact. They developed along with the jogging craze.
“There are people who are really pushing the minimalist shoe,” says Steve Messier, director of the Wake Forest University Runners’ Clinic. “But anyone who starts to talk about this shoe is better than that shoe is speculating. The point is we don’t really know yet which kind of shoe is better. There’s not enough science yet to support it.”