Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Impact of the elevated heel

I can't find any compelling support or reason for the elevated heel in the design of traditional running shoes.

Now that I've fully committed to "true" minimalist footwear, if I even try to walk in cushioned or heel elevated shoes, they feel so weird, almost foreign. I think cushion and heel differentials are quite harmful but, as between the two, I think the elevated heel is the most damaging. In fact, I don't believe it's possible to maintain a "natural" forefoot and/or mid-foot landing with an elevated heel. While it is possible to maintain a forefoot/mid-foot landing in elevated shoes it's "not" natural landing and I don't think it can be as a level of body adjustment is required.

When you have an elevated heel, you must dori-flex the foot a bit more otherwise if the foot is about to land pretty flat (or horizontal to the ground), the heel, even 1-3mm of heel build-up, will interfere with the landing unless you slightly dori-flex the foot a bit more which can be done but it's not the natural body movement as it's a degree of compensation that body is forced to do.

I think this is why I have issues with heel differentials, even minimal heel differentials, as I must adjust and slightly dori-flex a bit more. When you think about how quickly the ball of foot touches down, followed by the heel, we are talking about mm's so 1-2mm is material unless you over dori-flex. This has to have some level of impact on the leg and knee. The degree of impact will vary by individual but there must be an impact.

I continue to narrow down on what type of shoe features are intolerable and heel differentials are a non-starter. The cushion issue is a bit trickier as I see it as a very individual thing as even Evo's and KSO's have cushion albeit minimal but anything more than what is absolutely necessary for the surface I'm running on is the most I will deal with. Except for tough trails, the Evo is the most cushioned shoe I will put on my feet and, if things go well, I'll add the Adam to my rotation.


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