The shoe industry is driven by marketing, marketing, and marketing. Unfortunately, the consumer isn’t always aware of what’s fact or fiction, what’s good or bad. As an athlete, how do you know what shoe to select? They are all suppose to make you run faster, jump higher, and increase your performance, right? The task of selecting a shoe can become daunting.
Running magazines publish shoe reviews, but the evaluations are subjective, and cannot be backed up by the scientific literatue. As a member and President-Elect of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM), I suggest visiting its website to get informed. The organization has a three-point testing method that physicians as well as consumers can perform on a shoe when trying to make the right shoe selection.
The AAPSM tests include whether:
- a shoe has a firm heel counter
- the shoe can resist torque
- the shoe flexes at the appropriate place on the shoe
Heel counter stiffness helps lock in the heel and stabilize it. The heel counter, when squeezed from side-to-side, should have some resistance. After evaluating hundreds of shoes, I have found very few shoes that don’t have a good heel counter. Torsion control is important in sports that require lateral cutting, such as soccer, tennis and basketball.
Motion control running shoes have components that resist torque more so than a neutral shoe. To perform this test, you take and try to “twist” the shoe. Take a motion control shoe and any other shoe and one can tell the difference. Maybe the most important part of a shoe is where it flexes. The shoe industry has focused on the density of the midsole and cushioning, but it has been scientifically proven that cushioning isn’t necessarily beneficial. The shoe bends AT the big toe joint, and not in front of that or behind it. Some shoes will continue to bend and give in the middle of the shoe. That equals a poor shoe and future injury.
I encourage to visit the AAPSM website and do some further research prior to buying your first pair or next pair of running shoes. While a lot of shoes look nice and have great bells and whistles, they may not be a good, functioning shoe.