Running Shoes: Comfort vs. Function

By Megan Peach, DPT, OCS, CSCS
megan@excelptmt.com

Have you ever stood in front of a wall of running shoes wondering which shoe is right for you? Maybe the Hokas with the super cushioned sole that feel like you’re running on clouds? Or the Brooks trail runners since the trails have cleared up and you’ve been wanting to try out the North Cottonwood trail? Or maybe the Saucony minimalist shoes because you’ve recently read about the benefits of minimalist running? Or my personal favorite, the hot pink shoes with tie-dye laces?! 

You may think that based on the available technology for running shoes and advancements in materials used to create modern running shoes that a plethora of running shoe research would be available. However, this is not necessarily the case.

Although the modern running shoe has been around for the past 40 years since the running boom in the 1970s, research specific to running shoes and injury is relatively new within the past few years. A wide variety of shoe functions exist in running shoes from a cushioned sole for shock absorption, motion control to decrease over pronation, a trail runner, or a minimalist shoe. While some runners may benefit from a specific type of shoes, recent studies on footwear for runners suggest that when shoes or orthotics are selected for comfort rather than function this results in a decreased frequency of running related injury.

So, unfortunately, you can’t base your choice on shoe color alone, but if the pink shoes with tie-dye laces have the best fit and are the most comfortable, they are also the most likely to keep you out of an injury!

Megan Peach, DPT, OCS, CSCS specializes in manual treatment of spinal dysfunction, as well as knee and shoulder pain and is a member of the Excel Physical Therapy running specialist PT team. Megan’s philosophy for physical therapy treatment embraces educating patients about the tools they need for enhancement of proper body movements during work and play to promote a pain and injury free active lifestyle. 

Thank you to our patients who share their success stories with us.  The following update is from a Bozeman patient of ours who recently completed rehab with Jason following knee surgery.    After her surgery and rehab, she completed demanding hikes in the Highland Mary Lakes and Grand Turk regions in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado.  She writes to Jason "...Again, my thanks for your persistence and ability to prescribe what was needed."    Congratulations to D.H. for taking on these demanding long-distance hikes with elevations up to 12,400 feet!  May her inspiring endeavor be an inspiration to others and especially, you, as well!

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