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Would you try a heel less running shoe?

Author: Craig Payne
by Craig Payne
Posted: Aug 22, 2022
running shoe

Running shoes come in a wide variety of different designs that are not just different based on the colour. They can have different amounts of cushioning, different amount of heel height and different amounts of flex in the forefoot. The combination of these and a lot of other different design features in the running shoe make the variety quite wide. These can leave the runner quite confused as to what sort of running shoe is the best. As they are all so different there is no such thing as the best running shoes, with the best for one runner being quite different for what is best for another runner. The challenge is working out which is the best for you. Different runners have different running techniques, different foot shape and different goals. All of these and a whole lot more have to be taken into account to get the best running shoe for each individual runner.

For example, one rather odd and extreme difference in designs that has had several attempts to come to market with a few failures and few making it to market is running shoes with no heels. They have the heel area cut out of the midsole. These heel less running shoe or floating heel running shoes are designed to make sure that the runner hits the ground with the midfoot or forefoot rather than the heel. The purpose is to try and avoid the high impacts that are associated with heel striking that are assumed to be the cause of a lot of running injuries. Striking the ground with a forefoot is believed to be better for the runner. The problem with that assumption is that it is not supported by any evidence. If anything the evidence actually supports that the injury rate in runners is the same regardless of how they strike the ground, though they may get different types of injuries. This means that there is no inherent advantage in using a heel less running shoe versus a traditional one that permits heel striking. The choice of which of these two design features a runner should get is going to be based on a whole lot of things. For example if they have a history of heel impact related injuries, then they have nothing to lose by trying these heel less or floating heel running shoes.

While this example of the heel less running shoe is somewhat extreme it does point to the dilemma that runners have in deciding which running shoe is better for them. A good rule is to keep running in the shoe that you are currently in if it is working. A new runner or a runner wanting to change what shoes that they run is are better off getting advice from a specialist running shoe store. They will assess the foot shape and running technique as well as ask questions about the goals of the runner and what they want to achieve and then match that up with the best running shoe to meet those needs.

About the Author

Craig Payne is a University lecturer, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger and a dad.

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Author: Craig Payne
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Craig Payne

Member since: Aug 16, 2020
Published articles: 202

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