From the 1970’s running boom Nike led the way in running shoe technology and innovations. Thick rear-foot cushioning with hard midsole extending to the ball of the foot became the norm with an average 12-14mm heel-to-toe drop. This was initially introduced to decrease stress on the Achilles tendon and prevent excessive collapse of the inner arch.
Unfortunately this logic has been shown to be quite faulty. Nigg et al. (2009) demonstrated that more cushioning in shoes actually increases impact forces. They showed that it resulted in increased contact time on the ground while the goal should be to get off of the ground as quickly as possible. Extra heel cushioning also reduced stability at the ankle joint and resulted in increased motion and therefore risk of injury.
Footwear is an incredibly diverse and subjective choice and is of course somewhat dependent on the activity being performed but what I advise my patients is to use barefoot training techniques and to find a shoe with zero-drop from toe-to-heel and to avoid excessive heel cushioning.
This means don’t always go for the shiniest pair or the pair that you saw Usain Bolt wearing in an advert on television last night. We are all susceptible to aggresive marketing strategies but I am also not suggesting that all shoes you see advertised are no good. What I am suggesting is to be aware of the science and the footwear options out there.
Your trainers can be efficient and “cool”! Of course each person and person’s feet are different and needs some variation in shoe type and technique training . If you would like to talk about this further then drop by your local Physio Savvy clinic.