What type of shoe?

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20/11/2002 at 10:56
Feel like I have to chip in but as I am a Podiatrist I guess I am unwittingly part of the "establishment" with so much to lose if these theories are true!!!

However all IMHO; to my knowledge the work done on producing "efficient" running style has only been done on high level atheltes and not everyday fitness people and therefore not comparable.

Moreover Gordon Pirie and all the others date from an era when running was all about track and field athletes (mostly) not a widespread "hobby" for a large percentage of the population. Therefore I would propose in his day those who couldnt run because they were prone to injury, didnt (and they didnt feel bad about it as there wasnt the fitness/body image industry).
Along came the seventies/eighties and everyone wants to run and the shoe manufacturers have really only tried to keep up , holding back Anno Domini for some and helping compensate for biomechnical problems in others that would have otherwise made them succomb to the "survival of the fittest" law. Not to say shoe design mistakes havent happened! Some shoes are far too cushioned - Podiatrists have been saying this for some time but runners love them so manufacturers make them. I think this trend is reversing lately though.

However, to say the there is one efficient running style that prevents injuries and everyone should wear racing flats is as odd as saying everyone over-pronates and must wear Asics Kayano or other top-of-the range shoes.

The majority of injuries stem from too much, too soon rule IMHO as borne out by the fact that when I speak to injured runners about how they may have increased their mileage prior to the injury most are oblivious to the concept of increasing only 10% per week.

Just my ten-pence

20/11/2002 at 15:28
Running shoe companies are out to make money and they are providing a product that the running public is demanding - a well-cushioned, stable and durable shoe. If you talk to shoe reps or coaches they will tell you that injuries go up as cushioning and support in shoes goes down. Barefoot running on a soft surface can be beneficial in strengthening the muscles in your feet and legs - it will help your running. However, running barefoot all of the time will only get you injured. Your body is not designed to absorb that much stress from your feet without something to disipate the impact forces (cushioning). Yes, Kenyans have been known to train and run barefoot, but those that do have been raised walking and running and barefoot from an early age and they run on soft surfaces. The average Westerner was likely shoed from an early age in very supportive shoes and cannot simply go out and suddenly run marathons barefoot. As for the elites, most train in the same clunkers we do.
20/11/2002 at 15:30
An article posted on the website pponline which gives some pros and cons of minimal shoes.


Is the move towards thinner, less cushioned shoes, a trend I should be following?

Q: From my recent reading I gather that the tide of opinion seems to be turning in favour of thinner, less cushioned training shoes. I now run in Nike Waffle racers, which have essentially no cushion, and have had no problems so far. I am running mainly on trails. What are your thoughts? Will we start to see any movement in which lots of runners will train and race in thin-waffle or slipper-type shoes? Do you know of any world-class types doing it?
John Simmons

A: When we contrast'more shoe' with'less shoe', it's important to think about two key factors which may vary according to shoe type:

1. vertical impact forces
2. the extent and speed of motion at various joints, particularly the ankle and knee joints.

Where vertical impact forces are concerned, the research is very clear. Intuitively, more shoe is better, but research fails to confirm this assumption, suggesting that in some cases less shoe leads to lower impacts. This, according to some researchers, is because runners do a better job of adjusting mechanics to soak up ground-reaction force when they don't have mattresses under their feet. Bear in mind, though, that some of this research measures forces in the tibia, so trends could be different in the feet and ankles.
When we come to consider the extent and speed of motion at the ankles and knees, which can be injurious when extreme, it's clear that minimalist shoes have the advantage. Thicker, softer shoes lead to unstable ankles, more pronation and supination, and a greater tendency in general for the ankle to tip over.
It is interesting that you mention trails, because research shows that surface has little effect on impact forces. Trails usually feel nicer to us, but are they really? Researchers again say that we adjust our mechanics as we move from hard to soft surfaces, and vice versa, so that impact forces vary little. There are problems with this research, though, in that forces are again measured at tibia in some cases, instead of at the feet or ankles.
In general, strong, efficient, experienced runners seem to have little trouble when they switch running surfaces or shoes. The novice runner, on the other hand, seems to have more difficulty making those adjustments. The novice runner is less coordinated and less strong, and if you take his mattresses away, he might get hurt by vertical impact forces. Of course, he might be less likely to be hurt by extreme movements at the ankles or knees, since less-thick shoes tone down motion. To make things more complicated, there are probably some runners - novice and experienced alike - who are more susceptible to impact injuries, and others who are hurt more by muscle and tendon strain associated with excess motion at the joints during gait.
It's unlikely that we will see a large-scale movement toward minimal shoes, because the majority of runners are very weak and un-coordinated and do not like the feel of them. They tend to buy what feels cushy and comfortable in the store and don't think long-term. (Long-term thinking would be:'these shoes feel terrible now, but they will help me strengthen myself, become more efficient, and race better four months from now.)
In Kenya, most Kenyan runners train on worn-out shoes, which are like minimal shoes, since the midsoles have lost almost all of their compression-set resistance. And, of course, the young Kenyans work out on the most minimal shoes of all - bare feet. Most Americans and Europeans just use thin shoes for their speed sessions.

Owen Anderson
20/11/2002 at 17:10
David, I completely agree that your body is not designed for running barefoot. It *evolved* to run far and fast barefoot - failure to do it was punishable by death from a lion or bear etc. Can you imagine our primitive ancestors asking predators to wait whilst they slipped on a pair of Nikes.

Just try it the next time you're warming up for a run, make sure no-ones looking and slip off those shoes and just run a few yards on tarmac - the amazing thing is that it doesn't hurt and you instinctively run very lightly and swiftly. So how are shoes helping exactly ?

I completely dispute that prolonged running barefoot will get you injured - if this was the case we would all be extinct !
20/11/2002 at 17:45

If you can run 80 miles a week for a year in barefeet, without injury, I'll be convinced. Running barefoot for a few 100 meters is not the same as doing it for 26 miles or 80 miles. Your feet will not hold up. Shoes obviously protect your feet and elimate impact forces. Maybe our ancestors did at one time run barefoot, but this has no baring on training for races today. As I said, barefoot running on soft surfaces (not pavement) will strengthen your muscles and tendons, but that's all it will do.
20/11/2002 at 20:37
Let's get real here. Nobody is seriously saying that any of us can suddenly run barefoot. What is being said is:
- a number of people have found that forefoot striking to reduce injury (including me)
- we would be better running this way in less cushioned less controlling shoes than is the norm
- the available research backs this up.

Put it this way - is there anyone here that has gone from forefoot striking to heel striking and found it superior.
Can anyone (Lawrence - I'm sure if the evidence exists you must know of it??) point to research which contradicts what I am saying. If the answer to both of those is no then I think you'd be a fool if you went straight to using orthotics without at least trying altering your running style. After all the worst is you'll get injured - but if you already are then so what!
20/11/2002 at 20:59
There is no evidence that proves forefoot running over heel strike reduces injury. I been rec and competitive running for 17 years as a heel striker, I have only had a minor AT injury and that was cause by the wrong type of shoe. The evidence, and personal experience, does support that the people who get injured are in the wrong shoes for their foot type and they are doing too much, too soon. The best advice for new runners: Find a shoe that supports your foot type and is comfortable to run in and then run in it. Happy running DL

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