Shoe lovers beware, I might be giving you a reason to go splurge on some new kicks! Did you know your shoes can be the biggest culprit as to why you hurt during training? Modern shoes are now based on style not based on what is best for your specific foot and running stride.
To understand what makes a good shoe, we must first understand the shape and function of the human foot. In humans, the foot supports us during locomotion and usually directs our body weight forwards. Therefore, the wider and flatter the foot, the more support. When you run, a spring mechanism takes over with forefoot or mid-foot landing, followed by the toe-off phase. During this toe-off phase is when the big toe must press into the ground, halt foot pronation and direct the body in the sagittal plane.
Considering that running is a single leg activity vs two legs. Poor footwear essentially mimics the effect of a splint, creating a dysfunctional foot that is no longer capable of support or directing body weight during movement.
What makes a good vs. bad shoe? Many running shoes now have features that work the polar opposite of anatomy: narrow toe boxes, high toe/heel drops, thick and cushioned soles, and a toe spring. Due to shoes taking away these functions, our feet are becoming unable to perform their natural roles, causing muscles to atrophy and connective tissue to become fibrotic.
-Narrow toe boxes squeeze your toes together and shuts down the ability for your body to move bodyweight properly.
-Toe springs, identified by elevated toes of the shoe, take away the foot’s natural ability to absorb, store and release energy.
-Cushioned shoes are thought to interfere with the body’s ability to change from an inverted pendulum (walking) gait to a spring gait (running), and create rear foot striking. During walking, the heel lands first.Adding cushioning to the heel dampens this feedback, increasing the speed at which you can run with a heel strike
How can you correct this?
A transition shoe or multiple transition shoes, depending your starting point, would be optimal to prepare your body for barefoot running. This transition shoe(s) should slowly move in the direction of barefoot running by featuring a reduced heel/toe drop or wider toe box.Reversing the effects of years of anatomically incorrect shoes is not an easy task, but the younger you start this process, the easier and faster it will be. An ideal place to start could be a barefoot policy in your home.
Reference: breaking muscle
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