Editor’s Note: Brian Metzler has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of running shoes over the past 25 years. This is the third installment of Brian’s recommendations on how to navigate the complexities of the running shoe market in these minimalist-maximalist-and-more times. Today Brian tackles the incendiary topic of support. In previous installments he has written about fit and cushioning.
Part 3: Support
For decades, excessive pronation was a four-letter word in the running industry. The natural but sometimes extreme inward-rolling of a runner’s ankle and foot upon impact with the ground was believed to be the cause of numerous injuries and therefore shoe designers and running stores took it upon themselves to try to slow it down or stop it with slightly supportive stability shoes or more restrictive motion control shoes. While excessive pronation certainly contributes to many common overuse injuries, it’s not the only factor, and trying to reduce or eliminate it with running shoes tends to only cause more challenges. Supportive running shoes are generally heavier and more constrictive and also work counter to a runner’s natural and preferred path of movement. Limiting that natural movement can actually increase the negative effects of impact forces.
The modern approach to building shoes is to allow the body to run the way it prefers. The best shoes for you will let you run as efficiently as possible with the least muscular effort. To some extent, that means shoes that allow the foot to move as there was no shoe, but with just enough of the necessary cushioning and protection. So instead of stopping the natural motion of the foot, ankle, and lower leg, shoes should support that motion, says Carson Caprara, Brooks’ senior global product line manager.
Check out part 4 tomorrow, Running Shoes: The Offset Debate
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