It would seem that modern athletic shoes and the technology used in running shoes should provide maximum safety and comfort, especially for beginner runners. But that’s not quite the case.
The fact is that running shoe companies have long ago moved away from versatility. They offer shoes that have a clear direction not only by type of training, but also by running style, and take into account the biomechanics of a particular athlete’s feet.
The problem is that buying the wrong sneakers increases the risk of running injuries. There is also an increased risk of some age-related joint problems later in life.
It is worth noting that all the technology used in modern running shoes has never been necessary for humans. They are designed only to enable natural movement, which in most modern people is no longer natural.
Any running shoes other than minimalist sneakers will hurt you. Especially if you’ve been running a decent distance barefoot every day since you were born, say, fleeing predators or chasing prey. Conversely, there is too high a chance of injury if you run barefoot from the office, where you have sat half your life, home after a day’s work.
Still, most of us need running shoes so that our first run doesn’t turn out to be our last one. Whether this is good or bad is a philosophical question, but we just want to run, and run fast and far. So let’s enlist the help of engineers and manufacturers of specialized running shoes.
Best running shoes
To begin with, there is no such thing as the best running shoes. They’re all different. It’s like choosing the best cutlery. But you can eat pasta with a fork and oatmeal with a spoon. It’s the same with modern shoes. Moreover, a very specific division into asphalt and trail was established a long time ago.
Of course there are undoubted leaders in the production of sports shoes. These are La Sportiva, Newton, Saucony, Merrell, Brooks, ASICS, Montrail, Mizuno, Salomon and some others.
What to look for when choosing
Any footwear for sports is chosen solely for its purpose and, if necessary, according to the biomechanical parameters of the athlete, but not by appearance or color.
Surface for running
The first thing to consider when choosing running shoes is where you will be running. There are significant differences in shoes for asphalt, track, or the mountain forest trail.
In principle, you can run in trail sneakers on asphalt (if you put up with the rapid wear of the tread), but it will be uncomfortable to run trailrunning in asphalt marathons. It is not necessary to use the product unnecessarily in the element for which it was not originally intended.
If you’ve never run a marathon, you probably don’t realize that by the end of the race, your feet will have significantly increased in size due to swelling. That’s why it pays to choose sneakers in the evening when your feet are naturally swollen and add another half or a full size to that.
Here we are talking about the method of landing: on the heel or on the front of the foot (metatarsal). In the running community they are commonly referred to as “heel running” or “toe running”. This determines how pronounced the back of the sneaker is in relation to the front and how well it is cushioned.
Technical runners with a cat-like landing on the metatarsal will find a big difference in the height of the sole (drop) in the way and there is no need for heel cushioning. That’s why minimalism is their theme.
There is also an intermediate option – landing on the full foot. But in most cases, beginners need good cushioning of the heel area.
There is an opinion that cushioning prevents problems with knee joints, but this is still a controversial issue. Cushioning for “heel” runners is still necessary to prevent fatigue fractures and splinting.
All running shoes that involve some kind of cushioning are usually designed for a certain weight of the wearer. This parameter is indicated in the catalog or on the price tag. In minimalist sneakers there is no need for this for obvious reasons.
We come to an important parameter: the degree of pronation. At least, that’s how it’s commonly thought. However, this point is important when it comes to landing on the heel. When landing on the forefoot, the importance of pronation tends to zero.
The term pronation is used to refer to the complex natural movement of the foot and ankle joint when the foot lands on a hard surface. This complex of movements, inherent in nature, is a complex tool to provide shock absorption and distribution of impact loads.
В зависимости от индивидуальных особенностей строения ног, во время бега происходит заваливание стопы и движение голеностопного сустава внутрь к центральной линии тела.
The size of this blockage indirectly determines the amount of pronation. Accordingly, pronation can be insufficient (hypopronation), excessive (hyperpronation), or neutral. There are also transitional variants.
Depending on these features, there are different options for foot support and cushioning points in the sole design. That is, at a minimum, you can’t buy sneakers for hypopronators if you have excess pronation. Then it’s better to have a neutral option.
Recently, companies have begun to offer universal options for any type of foot, coming up with new “supertechnologies. Or simply agreeing with many experts that all this is nonsense and there is no need to artificially change the biomechanics if the runner’s own body does not cause discomfort.
Services for selecting running shoes
Large running stores have a shoe fitting service with treadmills and video recording of foot movement dynamics. The service is chargeable and is usually aimed at determining pronation, as well as increasing sales. You can do the pronation analysis yourself, so don’t do nonsense and don’t waste your money.
You can save money
Do not look for running shoes where they can not be. Buy them only in specialized stores.
On the other hand, you should not blindly believe in the magical properties of the next sneaker manufacturers. The competition is big and the quality is excellent, so the best way to stand out is to think up new features and introduce them into production every year.
Moreover, cheap running shoes can not only help save on fancy logos, but sometimes they can even be more comfortable and durable than the well-known brand. The main thing is not to fall into hysteria and not to become a victim of multimillion-dollar PR and advertising, but to look at things realistically.