I have been running off and on for about 10 years now. I never paid much attention to the kind of shoes I wore running until I had to throw away my completely worn out Nikes. In the past I had bought a pair of really nice running shoes through Nike and quite literally over a period of 2 or 3 years they were falling apart at the seams. I honestly didn’t want to throw them away but at the end of the day I did.
I thought that it would be ok to go to a cheap shoe store and buy discounted running shoes for $25. This was a big mistake. Not only did they kill my feet, I couldn’t even walk in them, but it was a waste of $25. I also had a pair of walking shoes that my mother got me as a gift from Walmart and I also gave those a try on the treadmill and was very disappointed!
At the end of it all I ended up spending the extra $75 on a really good pair of running shoes that would last me for potentially years and not kill my feet! I have done some research on how modern day shoes designed with running in mind have an impact on our feet and will go over some tips on how to buy effective running shoes for yourself that you won’t regret- like me.
The Evolution of Running Shoes from 1933 to Now
Running shoes have been around almost 100 years. Shieh (2017) discusses their evolution in “Shoes made for running: and That’s Just What They’ll Do”. In 1933 the Posture Foundation put what they called the “magic wedge” in their shoes in order to distribute a wearer’s weight evenly. They did this to reduce risk of injury.
In 1960 the first shoe that was specifically designed for running was the New Balance Trackster. This shoe was road gripping and had shock absorption ridge on the soul of the shoe. New Balance claimed that this saved runners from shin splints. In 1969 cushion comfort was introduced more into running shoes. The material in running shoes was thicker towards the heels which in turn relieved strain on the Achilles tendon.
In 1974 more focus was put on traction and bounce of a running shoe. Nike introduced the Nike Waffle Trainer which had deeper tracks in their souls that also absorbed more shock. In 1987 more attention was put on a lighter tread. Asics began padding their heels with silicone gel. This significantly cut the weight of a men’s shoe from 1 pound to 9.9 ounces. Now, fast-forward to present day, running shoes are slimming down even more. Nike has come out with a shoe that is only 7 ounces and the soul is filled with carbon fiber instead of silicone. This also makes running more enjoyable because it reduces shock.
How Modern Day Running Shoes Affect Your Feet
Wang (2017) explores the effects of running modern day running shoes in “Effects of Running Shoes with Abrasion Resistant Rubber Sole on the Exercise Capacity of the Human Body”. Although companies like Nike are starting use carbon fiber many companies are using rubber. When Industrialization came into being rubber also made its way into mass manufacturing, sports equipment is no exception. Wang (2017) analyzes studies that have been done when comparing new running shoes alongside the impacts of just running in bare feet.
Wearing running shoes that have slip resistant properties is favorable to a person’s feet. Other properties of modern say running shoes are that they stretch, have abrasion resistance and hardness. Compared to walking barefoot or with regular shoes the peak pressure intensity of the whole step of a runner is significantly less. In conclusion the studies found that wearing running shoes that are specifically designed for running, comfort, shock absorption and more could help a runner avoid excessive pressure and pain.
A Comparison of Your Old Running Shoes versus New
When studying and talking about the evolution of running shoes and how modern day running shoes affect a person’s feet I was curious how our old running shoes affect us. I thought, maybe having worn in running shoes is better? At least that is what I have heard so many times. Also, “you have to break them in to really get the benefit”. So I turned to research. Rethnam & Makwana (2011) discuss how old running shoes affect us versus new in “Are old running shoes detrimental to your feet? A Pedobarographic Study”.
They recommend that you should change your running shoes every 500 miles. There were studies done on 11 healthy female volunteers. Plantar pressures were measured. For the sake of my readers I will explain what plantar pressures are. The foot plantar pressure is the pressure field that is between the foot and support surface of our feet. I will discuss plantar pressure and more in another article. I could literally write an entire article, or more, just off how modern day running shoes are engineered based off of findings like this.
When comparing plantar pressure in these 11 women with new and old running shoes they found that plantar pressure measurements were higher in new running shoes. This is not to say that a person should not buy new running shoes. It just means that when you buy new running shoes make sure to wear them in your everyday activities for a while to break them in before seriously running in them. If you do start running immediately in new running shoes then your risk of injury to your feet and ankles is significantly higher than if you had broken them in a little beforehand.
Tips on Buying Running Shoes
Here are some tips fro you before investing in a new pair of running shoes. The Times of India (2016) gives some advice in “Here’s how to buy the best running shoes”. I would have to agree with them as well.
- Not every sport shoe is a running shoe. There is a difference between sports shoes and running shoes. These days companies are literally engineering their shoes!
- Don’t compromise on quality like I did and buy a $25 pair of running shoes on sale because it was a good deal. Go for quality over a bargain. You will be glad you did.
- Do your research before investing- that’s why you are here!
- Your shoes should not be too tight or loose but you want them slightly snug because you will break them in.
- There should be some space for your feet to spread out in the shoe.
- The soul of your shoe should have ample cushioning to absorb the shock impact.
- The fabric should be breathable
- If your shoes are not comfortable after 1 week then get rid of them. It’s not work hurting your feet and body if your shoes are not comfortable to walk or run in.
The evolution of running shoes has come a long way since the 1930’s. Through the years we have discovered that there needs to be maximum padding to absorb shock and not only that but there are different ways you can achieve that besides rubber. Companies now are engineering their shoes and using carbon fiber for that shock absorption and lightweight.
I could write an entire article about how companies are engineering their shoes now. The studies that they do now on the human body and the impacts of running shoes are scientific. When buying running shoes it is important to look at quality over bargain. I made the mistake of picking the cheapest pair of running shoes because I thought I was getting a good deal. Don’t make that mistake like I did. Do your research and pick shoes that are the best fit for you.
Wang, B. (2017). Effects of Running Shoes with Abrasion Resistant Rubber Sole on the Exercise Capacity of the Human Body. Kemija U Industriji, 66(9/10), 525-530. doi:10.15255/KUI.2017.024
(2016). Here’s how to buy the best running shoes. The Times of India.
Rethnam, U., & Makwana, N. (2011). Are old running shoes detrimental to your feet? A pedobarographic study.
Shieh, M. (2017) Shoes made for running: AND THAT’S JUST WHAT THEY’LL DO. Popular Science, (6). 36.