Many athletes wonder if there is a real need for running shoes, or if other types of general shoes might work just as well. The advantage of running shoes is finding a piece of footwear specifically targeted to your type of exercise. As with any sport, shoe design and function is crucial to the motion and support requirements of the particular activity being performed.
Running differs from walking in several ways. While walking, humans push off the side of their feet while keeping the center of gravity over the leg taking the step. The motion finishes with a slow roll onto the toes. On the other hand, running keeps the body’s center of gravity central to the torso. The foot meets the ground on the outside of the heel and rolls to the inside of the foot, an action known as pronation.
Running shoes are built to cushion and support the unique motion of the running. They also provide traction on a variety of surfaces. A key development has been adding support and cushion to the midsole. Based on the way the foot impacts the surface, midsole cushioning is the main difference between running shoes and those designed for other sports.
The main advantage of proper cushioning is to protect the foot from objects on the ground while providing stability to prevent the foot from pronating to the inside. Cushioning also protects the foot from impact force using absorption. A good shoe should withstand 2.5 to 3 times your body weight.
The latest developments in shoe material incorporate products called polyurethane and EVA. Polyurethane is exceptionally strong and long lasting, but is a heavy material which greatly increases shoe weight. EVA is lighter and more flexible, but tends to become compressed easily. Optimal shoe design incorporates both materials in the most beneficial manner. In the best shoes, polyurethane comprises the midsole and EVA is used in the remainder of the shoe to keep it lightweight.
Proper shoe cushion and support is crucial to prevention of injuries. Runners often deal with foot, knee and back problems. The amount of force runners experience when the foot strikes the surface is very great. High mileage can result in injury unless the runner has good shoe support to handle this type of impact. As mileage increases, runners should also ensure their shoes are not too worn or overused. Replacing shoes once they lose their support is key to avoiding injury.
There are many types of runners. Everyone uses a different training program. Each runner has an individual foot type, biomechanics, and overall mileage goals. Because of these differences, it is good to remember that finding the best shoe is an individual experience. In the end, each runner must combine shoe function with their own needs to find the right solution.
Selecting a shoe with so many brands and styles available in the market can be daunting. It takes proper research and adequate time to find the right fit and functionality. The ultimate advantage of running shoes is to provide a high level of comfort and support, resulting in an enjoyable and pain free experience for the runner.
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