At this point, we now know that cushioned running shoes results in poor sensory modulation in the feet, increasing your risk of injury during running. To make running safer, run barefoot or in barefoot shoes because running shoes are an inherent weapon that injure runners all the time.
Consequences of Poor Sensory Modulation in the Feet
The key role of sensory processing in the feet at the sub-cortical (sub-conscious) level is to avoid painful landings during running. High levels of plantar sensory processing elicits pain-avoidance motor commands in the feet, ankles, knees and hips. But running shoes blocks sensory processing, which means sensory signals from the feet relay less information about pressure stimuli to the spinal cord and brain.
Here are some of the consequences of plantar sensory dysfunction in running:
Running Too Slow – Poor proprioception was found to be a barrier for faster running. Running too slow (12 min/mile) causes impact to be higher than running faster (8 min/mile).
Loss of Perceived Vibratory and Cutaneous Stimuli – Cushioned running shoes block pressure sensations in the feet, causing sensory processing difficulties in the ankle.
Ankle Instability – Ankle stability primarily depends on high levels of sensory traffic at the feet. If sensory traffic is blocked, the ankles become wobbly at touchdown during running, increasing the risk of peroneal tendon injury.
High Plantar Pressures – Changes in plantar sensory input results in changes in plantar pressure distribution, which increases the risk of metatarsal stress fracture during running.
There are many other injuries linked to cushioned running shoes, so why wear them? Your feet are loaded with sensory receptors and these sensory receptors regulate reflexes and flexion/extension in the leg, therefore minimalist running shoes and running barefoot does wondrous things and are needed to help you take care of your running form and foot health.
More From Run Forefoot:
Be sure to head on over to the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it’s a great place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I’m always happy to help!
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.