Do Running Shoes Cushioning Cause or Prevent Injury?

If you have been a runner for some time now, you may have inevitably used or at least heard of other runners using cushioned running shoes. Ultra-cushioned running shoes have become extremely popular among regular runners in the recent past, though they were originally used by professional runners.

As a result, major players in the shoe industry have rolled out countless number and varieties of padded shoes for running, citing various benefits. The perks being claimed were also backed by the health industry which only increased the acceptance of cushioned shoes.  Cushions shoes are said to increase comfort during your run, aid performance and prevent running injuries. While runners vouch for it increasing comfort, whether cushioned shoes really prevent injuries is a question that many runners and health experts have been pondering upon of late.

Given the wide acceptance and fame enjoyed by heavily padded shoes, or ‘maximalist’ shoes, whether they aid in preventing injury or cause more injuries is a debate worth having. Read on to understand some misconceptions that you may have about both heavily padded shoes and minimalist, thin-soled shoes and in causing injuries.

Some of the arguments against using heavily padded shoes directly attack the claims that they make in injury prevention and impact reduction. In reducing joint impact, studies reveal that cushioned shoes only make runners feel as though the impact is reduced, because of the shock absorption that is offered by the padding. In reality, experts say, that this leads to runners being careless with their landing, because of the reduced sensation of the impact felt. This can lead to long-term impacts on the joints and tissues because when the foot placement is done without considering the impact it will have, weight distribution is disrupted.

 Further, thickly padded shoes are naturally more restricting and rigid. This translates into your muscles being able to do less work as compared to wearing minimalist shoes. Arguments against maximalist shoes say that this property of cushioned shoes leads to the deterioration of muscles. Naturally, weaker muscles are more prone to injury.

On the flip side, experts say that avoiding cushioning or padding altogether is not the answer either. The solution to the possible ill-effects of maximalist shoes is to find an adequate amount of padding. Most studies that argue that padded shoes do not prevent injury speaks specifically about heavily padded shoes. As opposed to this, a moderately padded pair of running shoe will help prevent injury, along with other benefits that cushioned shoes offer.

The comfort that cushioned shoes offer is unparalleled, and this is especially important for people that have previously sustained injuries. It is also known to result in higher performance, as a direct result of being more comfortable than minimalist shoes. Maximalist shoes have proven to reduce injury in high-performance runners, who almost always run a longer distance at a faster pace. The plush and cushioning effect provided by maximalist shoes absorb impact forces much more efficiently than minimalist shoes or going barefoot and hence reduces the risk of injury by a significant margin.

Having established all these facts and findings, it has to be said that no two people have the exact same experience with cushioned or non-cushioned shoes. The importance of trying out multiple varieties of shoes and choosing the one that serves you the best should be reinforced here. So, don’t hesitate to take your time and be patient with trying and testing new shoes.

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