How to Save Extra Money on the Best Type of Shoes for Running? Avoid Heel Strike!

Shoes for running are pricey, very pricey and often need to be replaced every 300 miles or less. However, changing your running form is the simple answer about how to save extra money on the best type of shoes for running.

Heel Strike Running = Pricey Running Shoes that Always Need Replacing

Heel strike running destroys even the best type of shoes for running

Heel strike runners are notorious for frequently replacing their running shoes every so many months. This is because the high-impact loads of heel strike running quickly deforms the cushioned material under the heel of the shoe. In this state, the heel pad is exposed to greater mechanical stress eventually leading to subsequent heel pad deformation, pain and injury.

By changing the way you strike the ground with your foot, to a forefoot strike, will give significant load relief, helping you save extra money on running shoes.

Cheaper Shoes for Forefoot Running

Firstly, minimalist running shoes are the best type of shoes for running forefoot and they are cheaper than the type of running shoes for heel strikers, the traditional running shoe.

Best type of Shoe for Running Forefoot
The Vibram Five Fingers EL-X (left) are best type of shoes for running forefooted, in my opinion, and costs $85; whereas the Mizuno Wave Prophecy 4 (right), a heel striking shoe, costs $210 and doesn’t last as long as the Vibrams.

Minimalist shoes have less material in terms of cushioning, arch support, toe-springs, heel counters and other control features that are prevalent in the traditional running shoe.

Running shoes for heel strikers are more costly because of the added shoe technology and cushioning, particularly under the heel.

Ultimately, heel strike runners need all the protection they can get in a shoe because they generate greater impact forces than forefoot strike runners.

For instance, the magnitude of the impact transient produced at heel strike is so great that it destroys even the most cushioned running shoe over a short period. As soon as this happens, the soft tissue elements of the heel pad are unprotected and become highly distorted during heel running, resulting in discomfort and the urgency to spend extra money on new running shoes.

Forefoot Running Less Destructive on Shoes

Forefoot running provides a favorable mechanical environment for the running shoe. Forefoot running is well-known for being a light style of running where the feet literally kiss the ground and spend more time airborne (less ground contact). Shoes for running take less of a beating in forefoot running because internal stress concentration that contributes to local tissue distortion is relieved.

Overall, the physiological loads and ground reaction forces are much lower in forefoot running, therefore less shoe components are needed to interact safely with the ground. And mechanically, forefoot runners make better use of the elastic-damping properties of the muscle-tendon units of the body.

Thus, forefoot running involves natural tissue stress reducing mechanisms relevant for the maintenance of good structural integrity of a running shoe, and is clinically meaningful also.

The substantial applied load reductions in forefoot running is the reason for how you can save extra money on the best type of shoes for running i.e. minimalist shoes. And you will also save extra money on injury treatments because forefoot running is considered more clinically relevant than heel strike running.

 

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References:

Chen WC and Lee PV. Explicit finite modeling of heel pad mechanics and running: inclusion of body dynamics in application of physiological impact loads. Comp Meth Biomech Biomed Eng, 2015, 18(14):1582-95.

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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