Debunking the myth of specialized running shoes - The Globe and Mail

Debunking the myth of specialized running shoes - The Globe and Mail

right now, barefoot running is at the same stage pronation-control shoes were in 1985: an intuitively attractive idea that makes sense, but hasn’t yet been tested.
When I got my first pair of real, grown up running shoes at a running shop, I expected all sorts of analysis and advice from the shoe salesman. Instead, I was told only this: the shoe should feel natural. In other words, if the shoe feels awkward in any way, tight or loose, supportive or not, DITCH IT. Some common sense is refreshing, sometimes.

In fact, numerous studies have found that training decisions – how far you run, how fast, how much recovery you allow – are far more important than shoes in predicting injuries. Those factors account for about 80 per cent of injury risk, according to one prospective study by Dr. Nigg’s group.

So where does that leave runners trying to choose a shoe? “The only thing we have is comfort,” Dr. Nigg says.

A decade ago, he and his colleagues studied 206 soldiers who were given six different shoe inserts and allowed to choose whichever felt most comfortable. There was no apparent connection between the soldiers’ foot types and the inserts they chose, but the number of injuries dropped significantly.

Dr. Ryan agrees: “The shoe should feel balanced. If it’s over- or undersupported, your lower leg muscles will have to work harder, which will make it feel less comfortable.”

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