Apologies for my silence over the past two weeks; I’ve been flattened by pneumonia. I’m just starting to come back to life again, though, and am back to blogging since at least in this medium you can’t hear me cough.
While I was ill I had a chance to catch up on some running-related reading, listening, and viewing, including this exceptionally important news item from early spring:
The American College of Sports Medicine, the leading authority on sports and fitness in the United States, has just released their ACSM 2014 Running Shoe Guidelines They are a radical change from past advice. Here are the three key criteria they suggest:
- Minimal heel-to-toe drop: “…shoes with no drop or a small drop 6mm or less are the best choice for allowing the foot to normally support loading during each gait cycle.”
- Neutral: “This means the shoe does not contain motion control or stability components…”
- Light in weight
The guidelines also state:
A running shoe should protect the feet against injury, but should not do the work of the foot by providing excessive cushioning and lots of extra support in the arch.
They include this crystal clear explanation as well:
Be aware that all runners pronate, or drop the foot inward. Pronation is a normal foot motion during walking and running. Pronation alone should not be a reason to select a running shoe. Runners may be told while shopping that because pronation is occurring, a shoe with arch support is best. In fact the opposite may be true. Pronation should occur and is a natural shock absorber. Stopping pronation with materials in the shoes may actually cause foot or knee problems to develop. Excessive pronation can occur, but in most cases can be corrected with therapy and exercises to strengthen the foot, leg, and hip rather than by a shoe.
I couldn’t have said it better myself, and I certainly couldn’t have said it as authoritatively. These guidelines were created by Heather K. Vincent, Ph.D., and Kevin R. Vincent, M.D., Ph.D. after a thorough review of the research available on the subject to date.
Over the past year there’s been much discussion about whether minimalist running shoes are a fad that is already fading. These guidelines make it clear that, on the contrary, the running and footwear industries have been permanently transformed, and now the right running shoes are essentially minimalist running shoes. Over time this will affect not just the fringe of the running community but every single runner, helping us all run better and healthier.