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Cushioned shoes and why they are destroying your body


The cushioning of the shoes is born with the intention of being able to increase the impact force on the ground exerted by the foot when running, without the obvious consequences that this entails, allowing athletes to go faster. So, it was born with the intention of improving the performance of athletes, not their health. Therefore, the cushioning of the shoes allows to hit tough ground without breaking our feet, but something seemingly good has had unsuspected consequences and can result in many problems.


A strong impact, even if we are protected, has an impact on the rest of the body. In the case of the runner: on the rest of the leg and back. This is why it is so important to prepare the body and make this impact as smooth as possible, whether the foot is protected or not. First, we must train our legs and bodies in the best way to prepare them for the impacts of the race. Second, we need to be aware of how we impact the ground, being as efficient as possible, placing and moving the legs and body to reduce impact torques, or what is known as a running technique.


All this brings us to the damping paradox. We might think that the more cushioning we have, the more protected we are, but this does not work exactly like that. The cushioning protects our foot and mostly its bones from impact, but also delays the consequences of it as pain after too strong of an impact. Unfortunately, without a biological imperative to change a behavior our body has no encouragement to change the way it moves.


Let's take an example, if we put our hand on the fire, we get burned and the body removes the hand before it is too late, but if we wear a protective glove we would not feel the burn and we would not remove the hand. We would have a problem if we are always wearing this glove, we'd have a hard time knowing if it burns a lot or it burns little. In turn, it would be difficult to assess when we have to take our hand off no matter how much protection we wear before it's too late.


In the case of cushioning something similar happens, when always wearing cushioned shoes the body has no need to change the way it hits the ground, since the consequences are in the distant future. This makes it very difficult, more or less natural to modify the way we hit the ground since our body is unable to distinguish when we are hitting too hard and act accordingly.


A second damping handicap is the problem of stability. The greater the cushioning, the greater the instability we cause. This adds some problems to the body as it makes it difficult to manage the impact.


In short, cushioning is not necessarily the best idea to protect your body from race-derived impacts. First improve your running technique and strengthen your body before wearing cushioned shoes, if you ever need them.

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