New research from the Institute of Motion Analysis & Research,Univesity of Dundee support cheap sport shoes are as good as more extensve brands. Budget running shoes match more expensive shoes in cushioning impact and overall comfort, a study has found. The research does not include the brands being measured in ongoing tests but initial results do suggest, despite manufacturers’ claims, no amount of built-in air bubbles, shock absorbers or other cushioning makes a difference to the overall pressure on the foot while walking or running. Running means the foot meets ground reaction forces up to five times body weight with each heel strike. These shock waves need to pass through the body safely especially when the force of the impact increases with speed and distance. In some cases faulty mechanics (pathomechanics) results in repetative stress injuries causing knee pain, stress fractures, muscle tears and osteoarthritis. Shoe cushioning aims to reduce peak forces in the hope of preventing damamge. This function is frequently referred to in marketing shoes as a “protective function.” When the force per unit area (presure) was measured from heel strike in nine pairs of trainers (three different manufacturers and in three different price ranges) those at the bargain end of the market performed better. Researchers at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, analysed eight different areas of the sole in 43 volunteers using a special device called a pedar system ( Novel) attached to the shoes. The cheapest pairs tested were priced at £40 to £45 with the moderate range costing £60 to £65. The three most expensive pairs cost £70 to £75. The participants were not told how much any of the shoes cost as their steps were monitored while walking over a distance of 20 metres. Nine of the volunteers then tested the shoes while running on a treadmill, which produced comparable pressure readings to walking. Different models performed differently for different areas of the foot but overall the shoes were similar, regardless of brand or price. In fact, plantar pressure was found to be slightly lower in the cheaper shoes. The researchers concluded when buying sportshoes the key is to find a pair of shoes that fit the foot (comfortable) and ignore the price. The vast majority of running shoas are sold for fashion and not sport, manufacturer’s priority is to produce a shoe that looks good on the streets with less emphasis of making athletes’ feet comfortable on the track. Running shoes need to be able cope with peak forces of pressure, shock attenuation and provide stability and lever for propulsion.
Clinghan RT, Arnold GP, Drew TS,Cochrane L, and Abboud RJ 2007 Do you get value for money when you buy an expensive pair of running shoes? Br J Sports Med.