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HOW SCIENCE CAN HELP YOU RUN FASTER AND MORE EFFECTIVELY IN RUNNING SHOES

Long-distance running times are decreasing, and Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge just ran the first marathon in under two hours. Some argue that changes in trainer design are a key factor in these advancements. What is the science behind these high-performance running shoes, though? Is it true that they can make such a great difference? Is it possible for them to improve?

The engineering of sports equipment, especially running shoes, has gotten a lot of attention in the previous two decades. However, while there is a lot of progress in this area, most of it is in the form of small steps rather than huge leaps forward.

The first running shoe was invented some 200 years ago, and materials and design have vastly advanced since then. However, when comparing year-to-year changes, the variances are minor. However, they do add up.

Injury prevention

A good running shoe should protect both the runner’s foot and the runner’s ankle. It helps to stabilise the foot and protects the skin from harm. It should also reduce potentially damaging impact forces when the runner’s foot hits the ground, while returning energy to the runner.

A good running shoe should protect both the runner’s foot and the runner’s ankle. It helps to stabilise the foot and protects the skin from harm. It should also reduce potentially damaging impact forces when the runner’s foot hits the ground, while returning energy to the runner.

Running shoes are made in such a way that they help you run faster. According to science, if you can lower the amount of energy it takes to run, you should be able to run faster and for longer periods of time.

A variety of strategies can be used to accomplish this. To begin, we can lower a shoe’s mass to make it lighter. A runner will be able to swing their legs more effectively as a result of this. Another idea is that if the midsole has greater cushioning, an athlete may run with straighter legs, which increases efficiency.

By transferring positive lower limb joint effort from the knee to the joint of your toes above the ball of your foot, stiff plates within the [midsole] may also assist an athlete run better. The runner may be able to store and return energy through these rigid plates.

When we compress and then release this midsole, we want as much energy as possible to be returned. An athlete should be able to run more effectively if more energy is recovered.

Of course, designing tests that systematically explore all of these elements might be difficult, but science is doing so.

Every runner is unique.

Major sporting goods companies devote a significant amount of effort and resources to developing and tweaking running shoes, but the largest issue they confront is that everyone is different.

The design and engineering that goes into a running shoe is very much influenced by the user and their needs. Each person will have their own running style, and each foot, of course, is unique. In the world of shoe design, there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution.

A racing shoe, for example, would be somewhat different from a marathon shoe. A marathon shoe must be cushioned to prevent the danger of injury from multiple hits over a long distance, whereas a sprinting shoe may benefit from being stiffer without having as much cushioning.

Similarly, some runners land directly on their heels. More cushioning is likely required for these “rear-foot strikers.” Others will strike with their forefoot more often. They’re probably less concerned about cushioning, so a more minimalist running shoe, or even jogging barefoot, could be beneficial.

Excellence is put to the test.

There are two types of testing. The first is engineering testing, which involves putting the design and materials to the test. This entails putting the shoe through its paces in a controlled environment.

Consider the ageing of a pair of shoes, for example. This may entail inserting an artificial foot inside the shoe and compressing it thousands of times to simulate someone running, then observing how the qualities change over time.

However, you should also investigate the shoe’s relationship with the athlete, looking into how the footwear affects the runner, their performance, and their overall physiological state.

Athletes could be asked to run over force plates while being videotaped using a motion capture device to see how their footwear affects their mobility and ground reaction forces. At this moment, we could also consider the possibility of injury.

Participants could also run on treadmills while their oxygen levels are monitored. You can see how efficient they are at running with various types of footwear in these types of experiments.

Gains in value

In the field of footwear science, materials are arguably the most important factor. Many of the most recent advancements in running shoes are focused on the materials utilised.

A shoe’s shape is mostly determined by the shape of the foot. However, you could make the midsole thicker and out of a softer, more resilient material, allowing it to collapse across a larger area and absorb and return more energy.

When examining various materials, you can think about a variety of topics. You might wish to choose lighter materials, materials that return more energy, or materials that allow the shoe to fit the foot better.

Molded materials like EVA foam are commonly used in the midsoles of running shoes. The bottom of a shoe should be rubbery to offer traction, while textiles are frequently used to construct the upper.

Footwear in the Future

Sustainability and personalization are the keys to the future of running footwear. People may be able to design their own shoes in the future if they so desire. Running shoes will be better designed to meet the needs of runners. For example, we could track how someone runs in the lab and then create a pair of shoes tailored to their needs.

But one thing is certain. We still don’t know everything there is to know about the ideal running shoe, and science is crucial. We still have a long way to go in this race.

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