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What Are the Benefits of Running Shoes?

author image Kathryn Vera
Kathryn Vera holds a master's degree in exercise physiology, as well as licensure as a Registered Dietitian. Currently, she works as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist in Cardiac Rehabilitation, where she provides care to patients living with chronic heart disease.
What Are the Benefits of Running Shoes?
A close-up of a woman running on old cobblestone. Photo Credit pojoslaw/iStock/Getty Images

According to "The Benefits of Running," which is a paper written by Elizabeth McLeod Sadler of Vanderbilt University, there are a number of benefits associated with running, including drops in blood pressure and body weight, and increases in lung capacity. While the types of equipment needed by runners is relatively limited, a good pair of running shoes is a must. Running shoes not only provide substantial midsole foot cushioning, they also offer arch support, aid in the prevention of injuries and can promote improved athletic performance.

Midsole Foot Cushioning

The American Council on Exercise reports that midsole cushioning is one of the most important benefits associated with the use of running shoes. As suggested by the name, the midsole is the area between the ball and heel of the foot. The American College of Sports Medicine says that the foot cushioning provided by running shoes can reduce some of the stress placed on the heel, ankles and toes during a run. This makes the activity more comfortable and safer. Appropriate cushioning can also help alleviate or prevent knee, hip and back pain, as it improves body mechanics.

Arch Support

Arch support is a must for individuals with flat feet -- especially if they participate in a regular exercise routine. It is no surprise, then, that the arch support provided by most running shoes is a major benefit for most avid exercisers. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that runners with flat feet consult a physical therapist or exercise physiologist for recommendations on the best running shoes. While flat-footed runners may experience the greatest benefit from the arch stability found in most running shoes, even those with high arches can benefit from the right kind of support.

Injury Prevention

In many cases, running shoes can help prevent certain types of injury. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests that the midsole cushioning and arch support described above can prevent overuse injuries, such as tendonitis, stress fractures and joint pain. Though barefoot running -- in which exercisers run without the protection of any foot covering -- has increased in popularity over the past few years, the risk for cuts and scrapes is high. The American Council on Exercise reports that the outsole protection offered by the shoes reduces injury to the feet.

Improved Athletic Performance

Those who use the right type of running shoe may experience greater athletic improvement than those who do not. The experts at the American Council on Exercise believe that this is likely due to several factors, including greater comfort and improved running capacity. Competitive runners, therefore, should greatly benefit from wearing them. Even those who are not competing can still achieve improvements in athletic performance by wearing running shoes.

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