From Minimal to Maximal: What gives Runners the best output?

By: Lisa M. Schoene, DPM, ATC

As we close on another great Chicago marathon, 2015 has seen some changes in the running shoe world. Running shoe guides are currently giving us their reviews of the new fall shoes, and it seems like cushion is back! For the past handful of years, some runners followed the running shoe trend of minimal cushioning and a zero drop mentality, believing that the foot did not need support nor the help of any extra cushioning, however this year things are changing, and the heel drop and more cushioning is back on the shelves.

Running Shoes, Sports Medicine, Best PracticesThe advent of the Hoka One One, shoe has raised the bar on cushion technology and most other shoe manufacturers are following suit. Many, if not most of the runners, ran in traditional running shoes, with only a few in Vibram technology and only one spotted barefoot. Traditional minimal shoes were designed so that runners would theoretically run with a midfoot to forefoot striking pattern. When the shoe manufacturers decided that they are going to change shoes based on how they thought runners should run, with no regards to the actual biomechanical entities of most runner’s feet, nor with any actual re-training, it was doomed to present problems eventually.

Scientific studies have shown us that the reality is, that 75% or more of us are heel strikers, and studies show, that runners also self select the gait pattern that suits them the best. Maybe the runners are self selecting more cushioning, so welcome back cushioning, as I think it is here to stay, at least for a while or until another running fad or trend comes along.