Does the running shoe fit?
Often the running shoe discussion can be quite divisive and there are sure to be many varying opinions for what is “the best” type of shoe. There are 2 distinct types of shoes to consider which each have their own variations.
In recent times, there has been hype towards minimalist shoes as they aim to replicate barefoot running as this is considered a more natural style. This argument is not so clear cut and there are many more factors that come into play with running than just the type of footwear.
What does the evidence say?
Currently there is a lack of high quality evidence that compares the two types of shoes. Some of the key messages from the research are.
- Lighter shoe means less work, but this is negligible for the average population (4)
- Barefoot means less work at the knee joint, but more work at the Ankle (1)
- Shock absorption shoes do not prevent injury (2)
- ‘Vibrams’ have less injuries than conventional but more pain generally during running (3)
In essence, the benefits we get from changing to minimalist shoes are more likely due to changes in biomechanics of running rather than shoe type.
Take home message before buying shoes!
It can all be quite confusing so here are our take home tips:
- Understanding your running technique helps determine your footwear of choice
- Training volume is more important than shoe type
- Do not make sudden changes in footwear as your body needs time to adapt
- Barefoot running might be natural, but concrete is not the surface we are designed to run on for extended periods. Wear something to cushion the impact on road
- Minimal or barefoot is better suited to trail running where your feet can react to uneven surfaces
If still unsure Book an Appointment with one of our running Physios to help you get the right shoes for your training
- The biomechanical difference between barefoot and shod distance running: a systematic review and meta-analysis (Hall et Al 2013)
- Injury risk in runners using standard or motion control shoes: a randomised controlled trial with participant and assessor blinding (Malisoux et al 2016)
- Examining injury risk and pain perception in runners using minimalist footwear. (Ryan et al 2014)
- The effect of footwear on running performance and running economy (Fuller et al 2015)