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Are Cushioned Shoes Bad For You?

Are Cushioned Shoes Bad For You?

What should one do to avoid foot injuries? Despite all the factors associated with foot-related injuries, most runners have it that cushioned shoes offer the most protection against harm.

However, what you won’t find on Runners niche is that a whole body of research shows that shoes with massive cushioning and support can increase injury risk in runners.

For persons prone to injuries, there’s always the question of what form of shoe is ideal. Some runners prefer heavily padded shoes, while others like to go with standard thin-soled shoes.

What is a Cushioned Shoe?

A cushioned shoe is the type of shoe that’s designed with the capacity to subside the shock and impact. When running, this aspect comes in handy when your feet come into contact with the surface.

Therefore, the sole purpose of shoe cushioning is to make the landing phases as seamless and gradual as possible to reduce the inevitable force in the ground. Cushioning is one of the most critical features of running shoes.

Do You Need Cushioning Shoes?

If you have ever run or spectated at races, you’ve probably noticed that stacked, heavily cushioned shoes have become almost global.

However, running in those thickly stuffed shoes could affect your running form in surprising ways. This is according to a series of contemporary studies of recreational athletes and maximalist running shoes.

A study examined the biomechanics of regular runners wearing super-cushioned shoes. The results found that some of them had to pound harder and pronate more than using regular cushy shoes.

Heavily cushioned running shoes have, in most part, replaced the minimalist, barefoot-style that most runners wore some years ago. They were lightweight, simply cushioned models, and were designed to give runners a more natural running experience and reduce the risk of injuries.

That said, some runners might hurt in minimalist shoes, while others will hardly enjoy the skimpy feel. Consequently, interest rocked toward the other premium running shoes with much cushion inside.

Maximalist shoes typically feature foam-filled midsole alongside other high-tech additions like carbon-fibre plates, which are reputed to be more comfortable with fewer chances of causing injuries.

This is pretty much obvious in some cases like the popular Nike Vaporfly, which is claimed to be comfier and faster than less-cushioned shoes, making them incredibly popular among competitive athletes.

One study published in Scientific Reports shows that running in those highly cushioned shoes usually marketed to prevent injury might, however, increase leg stiffness and cause greater impact loading when you hit the ground.

According To the Study:

The small research observed 12 healthy males with an average age of 27 years. All subjects were used to running, and each of them had some form of experience running, playing sports, or regular running.

The men received pairs of heavily cushioned shoes, which they stated to be Hoka One One Conquest, and a thinner option, which happened to be Brooks Ghost 6 running shoes.

Their performance was subjected to a 3-D analysis as they ran at speeds of 10km/hour (approx. 6 miles per hour) and 14.5 km/hour (approx. 9 miles per hour) jogging speeds.

Video footage of the subjects who received more cushioned shoes showed that they bent their knees less, striking the ground harder in comparison to those with less padded shoes.  This was particularly noticeable at faster speeds.

One researcher, Juha-Pekka Kulmala, put it in an email to Healthline that they were expecting to see similar impact effects when running on both types of shoes. It was found that cushioned and compliant shoes tend to compress underfoot during the ground contact when running.

The legs tend to compensate this by maintaining the preferred responsiveness of running, thus making it rather stiffer and compresses less. This usually leads to similar impacts across various cushioning properties. Apparently, it could be that even heavily cushioned shoes can increase impacts.

Also Read: When To Replace Running Shoes Brooks

Factors that Determine the Cushioning of A shoe

The type of cushioning included in a shoe can be attributed to various criteria determined by the power of the impact s, which might vary depending on the sort of running you do.

The Point of Impact

The type of intensity your body experiences when you jump on a mattress will be different compared to running or jumping on a hard surface. The surface deformation influences the force of the impact.

That means the type of cushioning you need will differ based on the nature of the surface you’re running on, whether it’s pavement, snow, sand, or asphalt.

Your Body Structure

This basically involves the skin and the fatty tissues inside your feet. They also play a significant role. The heel of your foot and the head of metatarsals do have a soft, thick fatty tissue that helps cushion the heaviness of your body when running.

Therefore, the deformation of your bones, as well as the intervertebral plates, also play a role to cushion the impact.


Runners have different strides. Although the majority of runners hit the ground with their heel first, some contact the ground with their forefoot. The running styles also influence the amount of energy exerted during the impact phase and how the impact affects your body.

The variations in strides is another considerable factor. A constant stride, like what you experience when running on the road, for instance, will also call for some support.

When running on tough, varied terrains, your body will need to have high responsiveness on the ground to deal with different impacts.


Bottom Line

These are the various things that should be taken into consideration when deciding on what type of shoes to go along with, especially running shoes.

The extent of cushioning can be found in the construction and materials used in making the sole (both midsole and the outsole). Persons who run on the level ground might require different cushioning than those who mostly run on hilly or mountainous terrain.

It’s also important to understand that individuals who run with a heel strike or forefoot strike and those with different ability levels will mean different needs as far as footwear is concerned. The point is to get the best combination of cushioning, responsiveness, support, and comfort that best suits your feet for whatever running type you’re up to.