Many people, especially new runners may think specialty running shoes are a gimmick. However, long-time runners will disagree. This article dives into the truth about specialty running shoes vs department store shoes.
While cushioning obviously provides comfort, it also has many other benefits, if it’s in the right place. Many specialty running shoes have strategically placed cushioning to reduce stress and prevent injuries. For example, most specialty running shoes have midsole cushioning between the ball of the foot and the heel. This cushion adds additional support and can help with posture and running form. Furthermore, this style of cushioning provides arch support, which is crucial for avoiding foot and knee pain. Department store running shoes typically just have a single full layer of cushioning from heel to toe, which is comfortable, but doesn’t support the ankle correctly and doesn’t offer much arch support.
Some people believe that arch support is only necessary for those with flat feet. However, even those with high arches benefit from arch support. This is because the arch or lack of arch bears an incredible amount of stress for every mile you walk or run. This is because your feet absorb the entire pressure of your body, which when running is even more pressure. We just need to do a quick math equation to demonstrate how much pressure your arch experiences per mile. Each mile contains 5280 feet, and the average stride is 2.5 feet, with the average person weighing 150 pounds. This means during a single mile, your arches experience 316,800 pounds of pressure. This is a lot, and can quickly add up and cause injury without proper support.
While insoles are available for department store running shoes, they can easily slip around within the shoe. Furthermore, finding an insole that has both arch support and ball-to-heel support can be a challenge. This is because most insoles are made for one of the other. With specialty running shoes, however, many brands offer variations on arch support, heel support, and ball support. Furthermore, some stores offer customized fitting where the shoes are heated and molded to your feet, arch, heel, and ball.
Perhaps the biggest and most important benefit of specialty running shoes is how they are designed. These shoes go through a rigorous design and testing system to ensure they help to minimize injury. As running is a high-impact activity, having the right amount of support, cushioning, and the correct foot all contribute to staying injury-free. This is because as mentioned above, hundreds of thousands of pounds are being applied to your feet every mile.
Department store running shoes on the other hand are typically designed to be fashionable and comfortable for short periods of time. They go through little to no testing and must fit a wide range of people of all weights and sizes. This means the shape is often more boxy and less fitted than a specialty shoe, causing your foot to move around if you run. In turn, this can cause injuries as your shoe is moving around your foot with every step.
Specialty shoes can improve your performance simply due to the thought-out design. After all, they are designed to hug your foot, stay in place, and add support. All of these details allow you to have better form and posture as you run, thus, impacting your performance. Furthermore, specialty shoes often last much longer than department store shoes due to higher quality materials and the above-mentioned testing process.
The truth about specialty running shoes vs department store shoes is that they are definitely worth the money if you plan to train regularly, or are interested in running. Not only will they last longer, they also provide the needed support to prevent injuries. To get the best pair of running shoes for your feet, visit a running store and do a gait analysis. This will ensure your shoes meet the needs of your feet for heel, arch, and ball support.