Less cushioning is gaining more popularity than multi-layer cushioning in the running world these days.

After the wave of cushioned shoes flooded the market in the 90’s and noughties, studies have shown that less cushioning in shoes actually helps most runners perform better. Of course, moving from cushioned shoes to less cushioned shoes takes some time and adjustment, so it’s not up to all levels of runners, but if you are a beginner, you would be happy to know the benefits reaped are plentiful. Here are some key reasons why runners like less cushioned footwear more, especially when it comes to the race day.

Minimal shoes will gradually improve one’s form over the course of a few weeks. It’s common sense, really. Think of cushions as those training wheels you put on your bike when you first started. After a while you don’t need them, as you can balance the cycle very well. With flats you are likely to rely on your technique rather than the shoe for maximum efficiency.

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Minimal shoes can actually decrease injury risk in well-trained runners. With minimal trainers any shortcoming in your pronation pattern, striding, or gait abnormalities are more apparent than ever. Judicious use of minimal trainers will help to correct these flaws over time by forcing your body to run more efficiently. But don’t just jump into your everyday running routine with a new pair of flats. Take time to get used to the movement and response of the shoes before upping your mileage.

Heavy trainers with stability support “prevent” your feet from doing what they “want” to do, but minimal trainers allow your body to work out its own kinks and find the right stride for you as an individual. You are also using all those muscles in your feet that would otherwise be unused when using cushioned shoes.

Of course, as we have discussed this earlier, the way forward would be to gradually increase their time spent in minimalist trainers from something akin to two-miles on grass in week one, to five miles at an easy pace on the road in minimalist shoes in week four.

When it comes to running shoes, there is no right or wrong. What’s important is your performance and personal preference, whatever that may be. Here’s to happy running!

Image: Nike

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