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Are modern "barefoot running" or air-cushion running shoes better that the previous EVA-soles of the 80s and 90s?

I feel better protected with the EVA, landing solidly on the heel, and have the impression that shoes that are too soft hurt my ankles (since they provide less stability). Normally, I run 3-5 miles 3x/week and weight 70kg.

Are EVA-shoes that bad?

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Minimal running shoes aren't 'too soft' they are often made of the same material, simply less of it. What's more problematic is the shoe manufacturers picking EVA probably because its cheapest way to make a decent sole. They could make better soles if they wanted to. –  Ivo Flipse Aug 23 '13 at 6:54
Yes, EVA shoes can be of the cheap kind. But I have higher quality shoes like New Balance and Nike in mind. –  jayron Aug 23 '13 at 14:02
While the shoe may be expensive, that doesn't mean the material its made out of is expensive as well. There are other foams that have much better characteristics, but they might be bad for the environment (in such volumes) or simply be more expensive –  Ivo Flipse Aug 23 '13 at 15:31
And there are a couple class action lawsuits on the minimalist footwear, and studies are showing increased injury rates with chi/pose/forefoot running fads. –  JohnP Jul 28 at 16:59

2 Answers 2

This is part of your problem.

landing solidly on the heel

Prior to the invention of cushioned shoes, most people ran using a mid-step or forefoot, rather than with a heel strike, because as you mentioned without cushioning, the pressure of a heel-strike impacts on the foot, ankle, knee and hips.

There are plenty of questions on the site that address barefoot running, but the common thread is a slow introduction and focus on a good mid-foot or forefoot technique.

As for whether or not traditional running shoes are bad all comes down to the runner and their technique. The general concensus is that heel-strike running patterns are bad for the legs in quite a few ways as they encourage heavier foot falls. The problem is that traditional runners make heel strikes less painful, but not necessarily more safe for the leg over all.

If you learn to switch to a mid-strike and enjoy traditional runners they are fine. But, and I can't stress this enough, continuing with a heel strike gait, regardless of shoe will increase your risk of injury in the long-term.

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Yes, I think that I'll have to train a mid-strike gait. Thanks for the tip. And I'll keep running with EVA sole shoes. My problem with other shoes was ankle sprains. Good EVA shoes leave my feet better protected, specially when I'm running on a terrain that is not perfectly flat and free of stones. –  jayron Aug 23 '13 at 14:10
You can get that kind of protection from much thinner soles. I think that most shoes won't prevent ankle sprains, so unless your ankle is really unstable, you'd be better off doing more stability or strength training. –  Ivo Flipse Aug 23 '13 at 15:33

I had been having ankle sprains and twists regularly, once every 1 to 2 years, until I changed my running to the barefoot-midsole style (at first, actually running barefoot). My motivation was knee pain, although in the 5 years since, I haven't twisted my ankle once. I attribute this to foot awareness -- with the cushioned shoes I wasn't 'feeling' the ground, and the stronger ankle muscles that developed.

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