THE COMPETITOR.COM ARTICLE “Love Your Maximalist Shoes? What You Need to Know” by Amanda Loudin discusses the current trend toward maximalist comfort in running shoes. Although this type of shoe provides maximum cushioning, the article presents reasons to be cautious about adopting its use. In it, elite runner, physician, and natural running advocate Mark Cucuzzella provides an opinion that “running in a big shoe prevents the foot from functioning as it is designed—as a spring rather than a shock absorber”. He maintains that changing the forces which impact the foot in running, by adding cushioning, may not allow for proper activation of structures “that perform that function.” Understand that his opinion comes from the perspective that less shoe is better.
One of the article’s other experts seems to say that simply cushioning the foot won’t correct existing problems, especially with balance, mobility, and stability, that often stem from weaknesses in muscles of the “posterior kinetic chain”. This makes sense as it reflects most of what is preached about training in general.
To explain the term “posterior chain” (the low back, the glutes, the hamstrings, and the calf muscles) you can read an excerpt from Stronger Legs & Lower Body by Tim Bishop. Exercises that strengthen these muscles will recruit most or all the entire chain rather than each muscle in isolation, because this is the manner in which they function in athletic activities, along with the core muscles.
An understanding of exercise physiology is needed to fully appreciate this discussion and the article. Readers who are educated in this field have an advantage over those of us who are not. My take-away message is that the maximalist shoes may help us feel better running, and this added comfort may allow us to run more and harder. However, we will be at risk of overuse injuries, especially if parallel training does not work to correct strength imbalances and existing problems with stability and flexibility. I am not qualified to take a stand on this issue (as I could not with the wearing of minimalist shoes/barefoot running). Some runners may confidently endorse maximalist or minimalist shoes. As an average person who wishes to avoid injury, I will proceed slowly in making changes from running shoes in which I have not thus far developed injuries. Thanks to Ms Loudin for her work.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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