Recent developments in science and design mean that many running shoes are more technical than ever. With advanced computer modeling software, creators can now develop shoes that work exactly in line with how humans run.
UK-based company, Reebok are credited with one of the first purpose-built sports shoes when, in the late 1800’s they released a pair of shoes designed for running that featured spikes. Something that had never been done before, the inventor, a keen runner himself, found that the spikes provided more grip on softer surfaces and helped him to run more fast than previously.
Two of the biggest companies in the sporting footwear market were actually founded by brothers. Adi Dassler created Adidas, while his brother Rudolph formed Puma. Established in 1925, Adidas also featured spiked footwear to help runners, this time offering a selection of varying styles for runners of varying distance.
Extensive research was performed in the early 1970’s to see exactly how humans run. Research that in modern time, with the benefit of computer software, is much simpler than it was then.
The research concentrated on the damage caused to the human body, especially the knee and thigh joints as a result of prolonged running on different surfaces.
The results of the study revealed three main methods of running; Neutral, Supenation and Pronation.
The Natural running style is where the runners foot lands flat on the ground and rolls neither inwards or outwards, but the foot travels directly in a straight line. This style of running is often the best for endurance running.
Pronation – This is where the foot rolls inwards as it hits the ground, and moves to the side as it travels forwards. Common injuries caused by this type of running are Tarsel tunnel syndrome, shin splints and bunyons.
Supenation – The opposite of Pronation – In this case, the foot rolls outwards. Excessive supenation can cause shin splints and ankle sprains.
There are now different versions of running footwear developed to cope with whatever style of running you have. Many shoes use different density of foam in parts of the sole to offer extra and firmer cushioning where needed to help minimise damage to your body with excessive running.
Other developments in running shoes include the Air Sole from Nike which was created in 1972. The inventor put rubber into his waffle machine at homeand stuck the resulting ‘waffle sole’ onto a standard pair of running shoes. The runners who tested the new invention remarked on how good they found it, and the lightweight sole revolutionised the running shoe market.
In more recent times, brands such as Skechers have entered the running footwear arena.