Do Running Shoes Make A Difference?

If you’re new to running, you might be hesitant to spend your hard-earned money on athletic gear, so do running shoes make a difference, or will any sneakers do?

It’s no secret that a decent pair of running shoes can cost a bit or, in some cases, a lot more than a regular pair of tennis shoes. So, do running shoes make a difference, and are they worth spending money on? Running shoes are worth it since they’re not designed the same as any other type of tennis shoe; they are designed to make running more comfortable and productive.

It’s common for many non-runners to think that running shoes are nothing more than fancy designer shoes that work the same way as a cheap pair of tennis shoes. Below, I’ll explain why this notion is wrong and much more.

Why Buy Good Running Shoes?

A good pair of running shoes can work wonders and make you feel less tired and sore after runs. However, there’s no such thing as one running shoe fits all. Everyone has unique needs when it comes to running, so it’s best to be armed with specific information before buying running shoes that will allow you to derive the maximum benefits the shoe can offer.

Knowing Your Gait

One of the biggest reasons why people don’t find or see the value in new running shoes is because they’ve never had their gait analyzed. Your gait is how your body moves and interacts with the surface while running. When you get a gait analysis, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how your legs and body move, including how your feet touch the ground while running.

This information can help you purchase the best running shoe for your unique running patterns. However, this analysis isn’t 100% accurate; it’s a rough outline of your body’s biomechanics. You might also find our explainer on can you run in joggers helpful.

Do Running Shoes Make A Difference
How your feet touch the ground while running

The analysis could show you whether or not your feet strike the ground with the balls of your feet or heel if you’re prone to overpronation (when someone overcompensates their foot strikes), and a lot of other handy information that can help you target running shoes with specific features and criteria. Once you are armed with the correct information, you should see your next pair of running shoes pay enormous dividends during your runs. If you have a few lousy running habits, some shoes can also help you correct them, but if a shoe does not fit your gait, it can also be counterproductive, no matter how amazing it looks.

Cushioning And Stability

One of the biggest running debates concerns the impact cushioning has on a person’s run. You have those who believe the more cushioning, the lighter and faster you’ll feel. Then some minimalists believe in keeping the shoe as light and simple as possible to mimic running barefoot.

As for stability, running shoes can help when running on uneven surfaces, making the run feel a little easier but also helping to prevent injury to an extent. Unfortunately, there are no running shoes that can completely protect you from blisters, bruises, twisted ankles, and other problems. One stability issue the right running shoe can help with is overpronation, when a foot rolls over 15 degrees inward to touch the ground following a heel strike.

The Use Of Apps

With new technology, you can even purchase running shoes that analyze how you run so you can make improvements. They work by interacting with apps you can install on your phone. Like other forms of wearable technology, such as watches that measure things like heart rate, burnt calories, and steps, running shoes, such as the Speedform Gemini 2 by Under Armour and TUNE by Kinematix, also offer helpful information.

For example, they can tell you about your asymmetry, cadence, heel contact time, and much more, giving you new insight into how best to optimize your running performance while minimizing your chances of injury. You might also be wondering, can you run in golf shoes?

Can Running Shoes Help You Run Faster?

As kids, many of us saw misleading basketball shoe commercials all but promised you could jump 10 feet into the air thanks to unique gimmicks like pumps. While there are a few questionable gimmicks in the realm of running shoes, according to a 2017 report by Sports Medicine, there is some truth to the idea that the right running shoe can help increase running speed.

Runner wearing Nike running shoes
Right running shoe can help increase running speed

Researchers predicted that Nike’s prototype running shoe would lower the energy cost of running by an average of 4%. And researchers predicted elite athletes wearing this prototype could run faster, achieving the world’s first sub-two-hour marathon.

In 2019, their prediction came true when Eluid Kipchoge became the first runner to run a full marathon in under two hours during a race in Vienna. Kipchoge wore Nike’s prototype AlphaFly running shoe. And when he set the current official world marathon record (which is 2:01.39), it marked the most significant improvement over the last five decades!

So yes, the right running shoe can help you perform better and run faster. If you liked this post, you might also be interested in our explainer on what’s so great about the Hoka One running shoes.