Cheap running shoes as good as expensive ones?
By tdw on Oct 12, 2007
The researchers added two caveats to their findings:
The kinetics of running on the treadmill may have been different for the volunteers wearing the test shoes, when compared to wearing their own personal shoes.
The durability of the shoes' mid-soles and in-soles -- whether the "cushionability" of the footwear either faded or endured with prolonged use -- was not put to the test.
That's quite some cop-out, if you don't mind me saying - particularly the durability issue.
I am not a scientist, but I have been running for a while, so I think I know a little bit about it by now...
Firstly, as most runners will attest to, the kinetics of running on a treadmill are vastly different to running on the road:
- The treadmill is a moving surface, so this requires less effort to "move" the body forward than would be required on the road. I therefore suggest that the amount of pressure on the forefoot on "pushoff" would be lower on the treadmill than on the road.
- Most treadmills have a cushioned bed. Whilst this might not affect the pressure measured in the test shoe, it does alter the way a runner runs because it adds "spring" to the running step.
Secondly, by adding a pressure plate ("Pedar") inside the shoe presumably between the insole and sole, the researchers would seem to be completely ignoring the effect of the cushioning provided by the technology in the shoe's sole, or at the very least skewing their data. In my research for shoes for myself, I can safely say that the more expensive shoes tend to have different technology in the sole to cushion and/or provide better running dynamics, so this is not something that can be ignored.
Finally, this research only focussed on cushioning. Whilst I prefer a well-cushioned shoe, it is not a priority for all runners, some need motion control, some want the shoe to be very responsive to their running gait. Whilst not all shoes are strong on these three details, the cost of the shoe is generally related to its ability to do one or more of these things very well.
I am not suggesting that everyone invest in a pair of expensive shoes. Buy what you can afford - particularly if you are new to running. However, I would not blindly accept this research as being gospel. Test shoes for yourself in the shop and figure out what is comfortable for you.