Thick Cushioned Running Shoes Are Not For Forefoot Running

Running shoes make all the difference when it comes to learning forefoot running, but the running shoes you need to wear must be thin, until you have fully learned the forefoot running technique, then you can run in thick cushioned running shoes like the pro’s.

The reward of running barefoot or in barefoot-like running shoes is that they help you learn to avoid heel strike. The main principal of learning forefoot running is to avoid heel strike via wearing less protection under you heel.

Why Avoid Wearing Thick Cushioned Running Shoes When Learning Forefoot Running

Thick cushioned running shoes are not suitable for forefoot running and are harmful to runners in many ways that come as a surprise.  How so? A growing body of research suggests a strong link between high levels of injury and thick cushioned running shoes.

Researchers discovered that thick cushioned running shoes impair running form by deterring a runner from landing on the forefoot and instead, encourages a heel strike.

Thick Cushioned Running Shoes Are Not For Forefoot Running

Runners achieve heel strike in these shoes because of the heel cushioning which facilitates knee extension and ankle dorsiflexion, all of which increases joint loading and peak and mean tibial shock during running (Fleming et al.2015; Lieberman et al., 2010).

Other mechanical consequences elicited by thick cushioned running shoes includes increased stance timereduced stride frequency, greater peak push-off, greater concentric knee power, increased stride length and over striding during running (Paquette et al. 2013). 

What is more concerning is that Kasmer et al., found that habitually minimalist forefoot runners adopted a posterior foot strike in thick cushioned running shoes. Their findings have since been replicated numerous times in other studies. For this reason, it is imperative that a thick cushioned running shoe not be used for forefoot running.

Another hidden danger of thick cushioned running shoes is their supportive features, which prevent the feet from carrying out natural functions. As the foot becomes underused over time, atrophy, foot pain, plantar fasciitis, and even stress fractures may arise.

Long-term use of cushioned running shoes may also warrant ankle weakness because ankle range of motion is restricted as compared with barefoot conditions, suggesting that muscle activity in the ankle is lower in running shoes (Fleming et al. 2015).

Why Cushioned Running Shoes are Dangerous

Barefoot Running Shoes are Key

Barefoot running shoes and barefoot running are powerful mechanisms behind adequate forefoot striking. Optimal peak pressure dissipation is a result of good forefoot strike mechanics, the main by-product of barefoot running and minimalist shod running.

  • Barefoot running shoes or running barefoot enhances neuromuscular programming of a forefoot strike, thereby staving off foot strike alterations, especially when fatigued.

It is important to define the dangers of thick cushioned running shoes since humans did not evolve to run with the aid of external support.  To tease out risk factors for running related injuries, a running shoe that moves with your foot instead of preventing your foot from moving, is a leap in the right direction!

More From Run Forefoot:

Thick Cushioned Running Shoes Influence Improper Running Form

Why Heel Striking in Minimalist Shoes is Harmful

Back Pain

Best Shoes for Forefoot Striking


References:

Flemming et al. Acute response to barefoot running in habitually shod males. Hum Mov Sci, 2015; 42:27-37.

Paquette et al. Acute effects of barefoot, minimal shoes and running shoes on lower limb mechanics in rear and forefoot strike runners. Footwear Sci, 2013; 5(1):9-18.

Robbins, S. E., & Hanna, A. M. (1987). Running-related injury prevention through barefoot adaptations. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 19, 148–156.

Tung, KD., Franz, JR and Kram, R. A test of the metabolic cost of cushioning hypothesis during shod and unshod running. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2014; 46(2):324-9.

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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