Differences in Regular Training Shoe v. Carbon-fiber Plated Shoe
Is there a difference we can assess between types of running shoes?
Prior to using our new 3D Gait system, Runeasi, we could analyze different shoes and assess your foot strike pattern. Sometimes higher cushioned shoes allow the runner to strike more aggressively or further away from their center of mass.
But now with Runeasi, we can identify objective data with how much impact your legs absorb and how stable you remain through each step even when the videos appear identical.
I recently tested myself at the same speed wearing a carbon-fiber plated shoe versus a standard training shoe and what I found surprised me.
If you look at this graph you can see the first plots on the left are with the Altra Escalante's - my typical training shoe and what I like to run in the most.
The points on the right are with the New Balance SuperComp Elite v3 - what I use for tempo runs, speed workouts and in the future will use for racing.
If you're unfamiliar with these shoes they are completely different:
- The Altra is a 0mm drop shoe with a 24mm stack height weighing 9.3oz.
- The New Balance is a 4mm drop shoe from a 40mm stack height down to a 24mm at the forefoot weighing 8.1oz
So we should expect to see differences on the graph. However I wouldn’t have expected such a stark drop in impact even though the amount of cushion is a lot higher in the New Balance.
Now as a backstory, my symmetry score is my weakest link likely due to some issues with my right hip that has not reared its angry head in a while. But the data is significant enough that some work could certainly be done to improve this.
What surprised me was how much my impact scores dropped when wearing the carbon-fiber plated shoe. This confirms data and research that suggests thicker soled shoes can create higher impact forces due to our decreased ability to absorb shock or elicit a higher degree of leg stiffness (1).
It's important to understand that this is only a snapshot over 1-2 minutes of running and things can change over time. But the takeaway here is that these forces exist and our body must be capable of managing them day in and day out.
I am also new to carbon plated shoes and for years have run in zero drop shoes or minimalists on and off the road. So although this test was not my first run in the shoe I likely have more awareness training to do as well as further testing at different speeds.
This may be a mini case study highlighting things specific to me and my capabilities but I think it identifies an important point about what performance shoes can and cannot do.
I hope to do multiple speed tests in the near future looking at both of these shoes again to see what data I can uncover.
In the meantime, if you want to see the differences in your shoes when you run, contact me or schedule a discovery call to discuss how I can help.
- Running in highly cushioned shoes increases leg stiffness and amplifies impact loading. Sci Rep. 2018; 8: 17496.