The Science of Running: Running Shoes

If you’ve been running for a while then you are familiar with the current debate over shoes that offer support and cushioning and minimalist footwear. It seems like this debate has become more present over the past couple of years.

The theory behind shoes offering support was that runners needed shoes that offered support based on how their foot struck the ground. Shoes fell into three categories – motion control to provide support for over-pronation, neutral for under-pronators, and stability to provide cushioning and support for slight pronators. The idea behind this type of support was to try and prevent injuries.

In general, the theory behind minimalist running is that it is a more natural form of running and therefore, will enable you to run more efficiently and at the same time reduce by injuries caused by shoes that alter your biomechanics. If you want to read more about minimalist running or barefoot running I suggest grabbing a copy of Born to Run.

I find it hard to find a good article about the different types of shoes without it being strongly slanted to one side of the debate. I did find this blog post which I feel does provide some insight into the benefits of both.

As for myself, when I first started running it was recommended I run in stability shoes based on my gait. As a result, I went through several pairs of New Balance 860 and its predecessors. Over the last year, in an effort to try lighter shoes I have experimented with more neutral shoes and running flats – in my case the New Balance 890 and Mizuno Wave Ronin 3. In both cases I have had positive experiences and for now plan to continue to run in a lighter more neutral shoe that still provides a bit of cushioning and support for everyday training, either the 890 or something similar, and have a pair of flats on hand for race day.

How do you select your shoes? Do you look for support or do you look for something light?

 

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