Footwear Companies Should Explain How to Run Properly in Their Shoes

It is important to understand how to run properly in a minimalist shoe. Minimalist running shoes are very popular today, but many runners do not know how to run properly in a minimalist running shoe -they heel strike instead of adopting a forefoot strike to reduce shock and body load.

Another part of the problem is that footwear companies fail to educate runners on the fundamental purpose of a minimalist running shoe.

proper running shoes minimalist footwear footstrike heel strike forefoot strikeFootwear companies went from decades of selling heavily cushioned, motion control stability shoes to telling us now, to wear barefoot-style running shoes as ‘less is considered more’.

However, the footwear industry failed to inform us WHY less is more when it certainly wasn’t for decades. This is why heel strikers get injured running in minimalist footwear.

  • the underlying motivation of a minimalist shoe is to encourage a runner to run the way humans were built to run, on the forefoot, not the heel

The Less You Know About Running, The More Money Shoe Companies Make

The ugly truth is footwear companies do not want you to know how to run properly because if you did, you would never injure and would not repeatedly purchase new footwear to ‘fix’ re-occurring running injuries.

  • A study by Marti et al. found that wearers of expensive running shoes that contain supportive and correctional elements were more likely to injure than wearers of  inexpensive running shoes

Running shoe manufactures want you to fear running and prefer that you feel biomechanically flawed to depend on their footwear to make you a ‘better’ runner.

  • A study by Robbins and Gouw focused on the relationship between running shoes and injury prevention concluded that notwithstanding unsupported claims by footwear manufacturers of improved protection with their products, it seems appropriate to consider expensive running shoes as unsafe

The Proper Foot Strike May Be More Important Than the ‘Proper’ Running Shoe

peak impact eliminated in forefoot running
A forefoot running gait has been shown to have greater shock absorbing properties compared to a heel strike running gait.

Running shoe manufactures tailor their shoe technology to reduce shock attenuation and ground reaction forces.
However, shock attenuation and ground reaction forces are absent in a forefoot strike (shown left); thus, forefoot runners do not need to rely on standard shoe technology to prevent injury as they run with considerably less impact than heel strikers.

Lastly, footwear companies use misleading marketing terms such as “Natural Running” or “Less is More” to promote their minimalist footwear. Yes, less is more, but again, footwear company’s conveniently forget to mention that you’re supposed to run with a forefoot-strike not a heel-strike when running in their minimalist shoes!

Footwear companies should explain the proper way to run in their shoes

I felt the need to revise the notion not only on the purpose of minimalists footwear, but HOW we should be running in these shoes. It’s important that runners understand the real purpose of a minimalist shoe in order to avoid injury.

In a nutshell, the purpose of a minimalist running shoe is to accommodate the natural movement of the foot, to better sense the ground beneath you, and to help adjust your footstrike accordingly to a forefoot-strike so you can get the best out of running, pain free.

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References:

Robbins, SE and Gouw GJ. (1991).  Athletic footwear: unsafe due to perceptual illusions

Marti, B. (1989). Relationship between running injuries and running shoes.

Run forefoot, because you are faster than you think!

Bretta Riches

Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
Bretta Riches

P.S. Don't forget to check out the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it's a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I'm always happy to help!

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