Can Running Shoes improve your running performance?

Despite a vivid debate about some new technology and running performance of elite athletes, I think that the role of the running-shoe technology in injury prevention and running performance may have been overrated for marketing purposes with poor scientific research.

Even if running shoes cannot improve your running technique, they are essential to reduce the mechanical stress on your feet and your entire body.

Footwear is important because it can modify runners’ training load, so they can tolerate more miles before sustaining injury.

Now I am going to provide you with running shoe tips to optimize their use and function:

1. Record your miles for each pair of shoes.

Despite shoe age does not affect injuries, shoe miles do.

You should try to keep records of our kilometers run with the same shoes.

More kilometers we run more the shoes decrease their shock-absorber power producing more strain on joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

I would recommend you replace your running shoes every 500-750 Kilometres ( 300-500 Miles ).

2. Alternating pairs of shoes does reduce injuries.

Create a nice rotation of shoes for different types of training:

One pair of shoes for speedwork.
One pair of shoes for trails.
One pair of shoes for the long run.

It could benefit both to reduce the mileage for each pair of shoes and have more performing shoes specific for a different kind of training.

3. Buy shoes not left in stock for long time.

Be careful when you buy a new pair of shoes that have been in stock for a long time as they could lose their cushioning function because of a degradation process of leather and rubber.

4. Shoes with a low heel-to-toe drop increase injury rates among everyday runners.

Any kind of shoes with a heel-to-toe drop of 6mm or less should be used sparingly at first, so your muscles get have time to adapt.
Low heel-to-toes drops give poor cushioning function to help the heel and forefoot absorb peaks of forces.
These peaks of forces have a negative impact on the feet muscles and tendons that can get easily inflammation or stiffness.

5. Find the shoes that fit better your foot shape

Each runner has a different shape of the feet, but generally, we can categorize them with a wide or narrow forefoot ( Width Fitting ).
The traditional width fitting for men’s shoes is a D-Width, within this category, Adidas and Hoka tend narrow, while Mizuno tends to be wide, for example.
The shape of the toes box which can be wide or narrow is another aspect to be considered carefully.
Find the right shoes that fit better the shape of both your forefoot and toes.

6. Barefoot or minimalist running does not decrease injury risk.

Despite you could think that running barefoot or with shoes without a substantial sole, could enhance the muscle’s foot power, It can increase the peak of forces acting on your feet and ankles increasing the chances of injuries.

7. Be careful with so-called “ motion control shoes “

Despite many runners could benefit from motion control, particularly excessive overpronators, I advise you to get a proper running assessment to avaluate the real benefit of this kind of shoes.

During many years of high-tech gait analysis I have found very often that these kind of shoes despite improve the stance analysis of the runner they produce a worsening of many running parameters during the gait and running analysis. So these kind of modification of the running biomechanic could increase the risk of injuries.

The image below shows how insoles, for high-arch feet, effects some running parameters. Insoles are based on the same concept of motion control shoes.

Insole Running Analysis Effects

More specifically, the image above shows how the insoles despite improving the Gait Line Lenght (red Lines ), shift too much outside the Gait Line producing an imbalance of the butterfly graph ( Blue Lines ) loading the outer left foot.

The image below supports the evidence of the first image with a feet pressure map with a very big peak of forces on the outer left heel.
This peak of forces can become one of the main causes of Achilles Tendon Injury or Fasciitis Plantaris.

Insoles Running Analysis Effects

Just to be clear, I am not totally against motion control shoes but their rare success depends on many factors like muscles adaptability, runners’ technique, and other biomechanics issues that only with an observational assessment of the runner can not be identified.

So all this to say that running shoes are a very important aspect of running training and injury management, but alone can make a miracle to improve your running technique and your PB!

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