Sneakers: How much cushion do you need?




Cushion is a great addition to sneakers & absorbs some of the impact imposed by running, which can be up to 7x body weight. But cushion also has its drawbacks- the softer the cushion, the more unstable the shoe. Sometimes this trade-off is worth it, sometimes injuries can occur bc of it.

The easiest way to tell if the sole is primarily cushion is when you see white from toe to heel- this is usually the softest type of cushion as well. Occasionally you will see a colored sole but if it is only one color, chances are there are minimal stability features. You can press on the heel to get a good feel for its stiffness as well. For people who run with a long distance stride (more upright, less leg separation, less arm swing) and run more than a mile, cushion is a necessity & should be part of your decision process when buying sneakers. People who are struggling with joint arthritis of the ankle, knee, hip or even low back should also look for increased cushion in all of their sneakers, regardless of exercise choice. For people who sprint for cardio, or people training on the gym floor with lunges, squats & jumps, cushion can cause more harm than good. For these activities, the sensory information from the foot on a firm base is pretty important. Lower body training requires a minimalist, less cushioned or crosstraining shoe for best performance & reduced chance of injury. Yep- that means different shoes for running and training. You can eyeroll, I’ll wait. Ok you’re back... 😊... Choosing between shoes can be confusing- for instance, when someone wants to run for awhile, then train lunges. If this is how you exercise, you can switch shoes for running & training (yeah right), separate running days from training days, or pick what needs more consideration & choose shoewear based on those necessities.

If you are performing lunges w a cushioned shoe, you’ll need extra focus for stability; If you are using a minimalist shoe your runs should stay as sprints, with extra focus on keeping sprinting form.


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