Wednesday, June 3, 2009

No Evidence for Cushioned Control

I have been challenged by some who see me running barefooted or marathon training in flats. They insist I am setting myself up for catastrophy. They have been taught a marathon shoe should consist of lots of padding and control to be safe. I worry just the opposite may be true and that we are actually creating more problems because we are using these shoes. Recently, a scientist at the University of Newcastle set out to answer the distance shoe question. Research of the scientific literature supporting a heavier marathon shoe was done by Dr. Craig Richards. Dr. Richards found that although many manufacturers of running shoes were making claims supporting the use of cushioned control shoes, the global pool of sports medicine research contained nothing to support such claims. I found this article the other day. It's very interesting. See this link for more info.

I've been fascinated by this subject because I have personnally noticed that runners wearing these types of shoes tended to run unnaturally. They would often heal strike and it appeared the energy is directed not toward propelling the runner forward, but up and into the knee and hip. It looked to me as if the legs were being thrust into the torso. It just didn't look right. To get at what I am trying to describe, I found a video demonstrating the difference between how natural running is altered by such shoes. Dr. Richards calls such shoes a PCECH shoe. It is defined as a running shoe with pronation control to prevent thee ankle from rolling in and an elevated cushioned heal. The video does a great job of illustrating how such shoes alter the way we run by making a recording of the same runner on the same day. The clip is two videos side by side demonstrating how a runner uncoached alters their gait based on wearing a PCECH shoe.

The subject demands more scientific research. Based on my personal experience and review of the current literature. I do not to use such shoes. I have moved toward a more minimal lowered heal shoe for long distance running. My marathon shoes are considered by the conventional running shoe community to be 5k flats. When I am running very short distances I may even go completely barefoot. I wan't to go fast and be healthy. Until I discover hard evidence to support such shoes, barring serious injury, I am sticking with this strategy.

1 comment:

ChrisA said...

Very compelling. Especially the stills comparison of the difference in leg angle at the time of foot strike.