For every runner, the running shoes are no doubt the most important gear to have. With the growing variety of brands and styles of this type of athletic shoes, the choice of proper shoes for running could be overwhelming at times. Buying great shoes for running can be made even more difficult due to a number of common myths and certain widely voiced opinions which are not based on actual facts. Here are a number of myths regarding running shoes which we think is time to be debunked:
- MYTH “For the best natural running experience choose barefoot shoes”
Although some fans of minimalist shoes stand firmly behind this opinion, in actuality minimalist running shoes are not as comfortable as the well cushioned running shoes, as they do not provide protection for the heels when you are running on uneven terrains, on stones and in cold or wet conditions. Also, many runners do not have well developed stabilizing muscles needed to keep the feet, ankles and knees safe from injuries due to the high impact caused by the fact that the minimalist shoes make runners land on the balls of their feet solely. This technique needs quite a bit of getting used to and training, so it is not recommended for all recreational runners. On the other hand, a pair of barefoot shoes can do wonders for training and improving your running technique when used for short runs. This is why, you may want to consider getting a pair for an occasional brief run, but stick to your cushioned and stable running shoes for your daily long runs.
- MYTH “Orthopedic insoles will resolve all your foot pain problems when running”
True, orthopedic insoles can do wonders for resolving a number of painful foot conditions, as they provide added stability to the feet, but will all your foot problems and pains be relieved by them fully? Actually, experts say that good quality running shoes should provide the proper cushioning and support to keep your feet aligned and provide the shock absorption necessary to keep you from injuring yourself when running. Using orthopedic insoles should be done only after a podiatrist has prescribed custom made ones to resolve foot problems which cannot otherwise be fixed. The inserts which your local athletic store is always trying to sell to you along with your running shoes are definitely not universal fix for all kinds of foot problems and pains. Usually, training and increasing your foot and leg strength, mobility and your overall running form should be a better solution for resolving minor foot problems and imbalances, instead of orthotic insoles.
- MYTH “Men’s and women’s running shoes differ only by style and color”
You may think that manufacturers release male and female versions of their athletic shoes with just aesthetics in mind, but the truth is that the female and male feet are quite different, not only in size but in shape as well. Women in general have narrower heels, smaller and more flexible feet which take up less space. Also, women are usually lighter than men and have different motor control. All these differences are taken into account when the sports footwear manufacturers design and make the gender specific running shoes they make. Women’s running shoes are usually narrower, lighter and more flexible than the versions for men. Also, the cushioning, the fit and the construction itself are made to fit the specific motion type and body size of women.
So, there are actually some serious differences between running shoes for women and men, even though they may carry the same brand and style name. But even so, if a lady has wider feet or feels more comfortable in running shoes made for men it is a matter of personal choice for her to choose to buy and run in them!
- MYTH “Stability running shoes are better for the leg joints and can resolve orthopedic issues”
Due to the fact that we wear cushioned and sturdy shoes in our everyday life as well as for running, our feet and legs have lost the natural ability to run barefoot. The more stability the shoes provide, the less effort is made by the muscles of the feet and legs, which actually hinders our fitness level. True, stability shoes are excellent for endurance runners whose muscles need added stability during the long run, as well as for runners with serious misalignment issues in the feet, but they are not better for the leg joints. They can actually hinder the training process for the legs and muscles when running.
- MYTH “Runners must have several pairs of running shoes”
True, wearing different types of running shoes for different runs and training sessions does help train different motor skills and can help the overall performance, but you don’t need more than two pairs of different running shoes at a time to be a good runner. Get two different pairs and wear them for different conditions, lengths and types of running, and you will increase the strength of your muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments. But two at a time is enough!
- MYTH “Gait analysis done on a treadmill is very precise and can help you choose the perfect shoe type”
Actually, the way you run on a treadmill is very different than how you run outdoors on different terrains and elevations. So, analyze your gait type while running outside, if you are an outdoor runner if you want to get the proper type of running shoes.
- MYTH “Lighter shoes make running faster”
If you are a very well trained runner in excellent form, this running shoe myth could be true for you, but for recreational runners who are not in such good form, light running shoes can actually be dangerous and can hinder their performance on the track. The stability provided by heavier running shoes is the better option for runners who are not in top form or for newbies.