Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

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DOR Podcast #96: Testing the Performance Benefits of Super Shoes, ft. Saucony's Cory Hofmann

Nate, Matt, and DJ are joined Cory Hofmann from Saucony for a deep dive into the world of shoe testing. Cory gives us an inside look at how Saucony tests the biomechanical and physiological impact of their shoes on runners. He also helps us define some oft-misunderstood scientific terms like running power, metabolic cost, running economy, VO2 Max, and more.

Listen to This Week's Podcast Here!

Direct Links: Apple | Spotify | Anchor



0:00 - Introduction
06:07 - How do you measure the benefit you get from different shoes?
13:04 - Mechanical vs. metabolic power
24:27 - How do we measure metabolic cost?
27:51 - What to make of smartwatches giving you your VO2
31:11 - Oxygen vs. energy
39:56 - Research into running cost
44:26 - Biomechanical trends in relation to running economy
49:34 - The relationship between running economy and performance
53:22 - The components of shoes that contribute to performance benefits
58:57 - Our thoughts on the Endorphin Pro 3
1:02:36 - Wrap-up

Science Blog: What is “ground feel” and why is it important?
By Contributor Megan Flynn

Ground feel refers to the ability for the foot to feel and detect the surface underneath it which aids in proprioceptive awareness (the body’s ability to orient itself through space or movement). We use proprioception with every movement and the more feedback, the better the quality of movement. A majority of this feedback comes from pressure receptors which are mostly located in the feet. In less than a split second, these pressure receptors relay information back to the spinal cord via an afferent neural pathway. The spinal cord then sends a message via an efferent neural pathway back to the muscles, tendons, and joints of the foot and ankle with instructions on how to respond to the sensory information. With all of this happening faster than the blink of an eye, it is clear how important the feedback of ground feel is when running on either roads or trails.

The level of cushioning in a shoe increases or decreases ground-feel. In maximally cushioned, high-stack shoes the ground feel is decreased due to the high amount of foam in the midsole. The cushioning essentially acts as a barrier, blocking the proprioceptive system’s effectiveness, and therefore the body’s awareness of position in space. Conversely, in minimalist shoes with less foam and cushion the foot has an increased ability to feel the ground beneath it and respond appropriately. For trail running, a balance is needed because without enough cushioning the feet aren’t protected from the elements encountered including roots, rocks, and uneven terrain. 

In trail shoes ground-feel and proprioception are arguably more important than in road shoes due to the need for agility and quick responses to different surfaces and terrain. Having more ground-feel allows for more sensory feedback, thus resulting in muscles, tendons, and joints working together to provide awareness and quick adaptations on uneven surfaces. Increased awareness and feedback can help to improve quality of movement and avoid injuries such as ankle sprains when running on uneven trails.

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Recently at Doctors of Running

Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 - Bigger, with tons of cush for the long distance
Asics Metaspeed Sky+ - A big update to the super shoe stride racer
Topo Athletic Pursuit - A solid trail runner for almost any situation
Puma Run XX Nitro: A women's specific trainer with broad stability elements
Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 -
The fan favorite comes back more stable than ever before

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