How To Pick the Best Running Shoe – Surprising!

Hi, Steven Sashen here, and in this video
you’re going to learn how to pick a good running shoe. And the information that we’re going to be
talking about comes from, in large part, this article, which is from the American College
of Sports Medicine. It’s also coming from experience that I have,
so I’ll be adding my editorial, but most of this is coming from the ACSM and their recommendations. So let’s just jump right in. I’m going to read some of this and then throw
in my editorial. “Running shoes should be selected after
careful consideration. With so many brands and styles of shoes on
the marketing today, it is important to find the best fit for your feet and needs. There is no ‘right shoe’ that fits all
runners. However, research and injury patterns have
shown there are some general characteristics of a good, safe running shoe.” Now, before I even jump in I just want to
warn you that what you’re about to learn flies completely in the face of what you will hear
from most people trying to sell you running shoes. You go to your average running shoe store,
they will tell you the exact opposite of what you’re about to hear. Remember, this is research coming from the
American College of Sports Medicine, not someone who has been paid to say certain things from
a running shoe company. For example, some of them are going to argue,
“Because I actually own a shoe company…” Trust me, you’ll hear the difference between
what I’m saying and what someone who’s being paid to say things that are the opposite of
what the American College of Sports Medicine is saying. Here we go. Let’s just start with this first paragraph
because this really, if you get nothing out of this other than what’s in this first
paragraph, this could change your life. “A running shoe should protect the feet
against injury but should not do the work of the foot by providing excessive cushioning
and lots of extra support in the arch. A shoe should complement a strong foot.” Let’s just parse that. Let’s break that down. A running shoe should protect the feet against
injury. That’s the fundamental function. If you look at running shoes prior to 1972,
most of them, really thin bits of leather and some leather on the top, but that’s all
they were doing, was protecting the foot against injury. They weren’t providing any of the bells and
whistles that you see in modern running shoes. So, something to keep in mind that this whole
new running shoe thing really kicked off in the early seventies and has changed dramatically,
and what the ACSM is suggesting right here, first thing – protect the foot against injury. Primary function. So next, “But shouldn’t do the work of the
foot by providing excessive cushioning.” Now what that means, the work of the foot—and
actually the entire lower body—its job is to be a natural spring and shock absorber. So you don’t want the shoe to try and take
over that role. And we’ll talk about why in a little bit,
but suffice it to say, you want to let the foot and the rest of your lower body do its
job…not providing excessive cushioning. Now, the reason you don’t want excessive
cushioning is—Harvard’s Daniel Lieberman showed this—your foot has more nerve endings
in the sole than anywhere but your fingertips and your lips, and one of the things that
that sensory feedback mechanism gives you, it tells your brain how to use your whole
body. It tells your brain what you’re stepping on
or in. And so if you have a bunch of cushioning,
your brain basically tells your foot to land harder because it’s not getting information
otherwise. So it’s a paradoxical thing—paradoxical
until you think about it, really—that you don’t want excessive cushioning because
that actually has been shown to increase loading forces in the body. Another reason that it increases loading forces
is with a lot of cushioning you’ll often land with your leg fully outstretched—straight
leg—which means you’re sending a force right up through the joints rather than using the
muscles, ligaments and tendons as the natural spring and shock absorbers they’re built to
be. So you don’t want excessive cushioning and
you don’t want lots of extra support in the arch. I’m going to argue you don’t need any, but
let’s just start with you don’t need extra support in the arch. Now, some people will go, “But I need support
because I’m wearing my orthotics and…” etc. If you look at some research done about orthotics
and support, A, there was a great article in the New York Times written by one of my
favorite science writers—because she’s, A, brilliant, and B, I love her name, which
is Gina Kolata—looking at arch support and basically it showed that it’s primarily not
necessary. Very few people are helped a little bit, for
a little bit of time, but if you wear support over time it can actually be detrimental. Think of it this way: You break your arm,
you put your arm in a cast, it’s being supported, and when it comes out of the cast it is weaker. Same thing happens with your foot. If you don’t let your foot move naturally
by supporting it, it over time gets weaker, and that’s a vicious cycle. So you don’t need extra support. “A shoe should complement a strong foot.” Now, you might say, “Do I have a strong
foot?” Well, the answer is, if you’ve been wearing
big shoes with a lot of cushioning, doing way more than just protecting your foot against
injury with a lot of support, you may not. So how do you get stronger? Same way you would if you’d come out of the
cast. You start using that arm, it gets stronger. You use your foot, it gets stronger. You can use your foot when you have a shoe
that does what it’s suggesting here – just protecting yourself against injury, not doing
the work of your foot by providing excessive cushioning, not giving you a lot of extra
arch support. If you’ve been in highly supportive shoes,
it can take you a little while to get those things working again, but anyone can get stronger
at any age. So, just FYI. Okay, let’s go down a little further. “Characteristics of a good, safe running
shoe include minimal heel-to-toe drop.” The drop is the difference in thickness of
the heel cushion to the thickness in the forefoot cushion area. Or, another way of saying that, it’s just
the difference in height between your heel and your forefoot when you’re standing on
the ground in the shoe. Let me show you an example of something. Yup, there we go. So here’s a shoe where I’ve drawn these two
lines. Here’s basically a straight line parallel
to the ground. Here’s the line you can see from the heel
to the ball of the foot, and actually it goes a little further, but same idea. And this distance here is the drop. In this case, this looks like about a half
an inch, which is significant. This is practically—well, it’s not practically
wearing high heels. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. But it’s a high-heeled product. I mean, that is a significant amount to elevate
your heel. Let’s back up. “Shoes with no drop or a small drop, 6 millimeters
or less, are the best choice for allowing the foot to normally support loading during
each gait cycle.” So the gist of it is, the way your foot works,
your foot has an arch and an arch works when both ends are kind of touching the ground
properly. When you jack one end up, an arch falls down. Same thing in your foot. When you unnaturally move your heel up, it
just changes the whole biomechanics of your foot and makes it so you don’t load your
foot properly. It also can offset your knees, your hip and
your back, and cause your butt to stick out and cause other problems as well. But, so first things first, you want to go
with a shoe with no drop or a small drop. I’m going to use as an example for no drop
a shoe that I just pulled off my foot. This is one of mine, I will confess. So Xero Shoes have a zero drop, so the height
of the ball of the foot is the same as the height of the heel because it’s a flat sole. Let’s look at something else though before
we jump off on that. Let’s look at a shoe like this one. So this is a Hoka shoe, and this is kind of
deceptive because your heel sits in this cushion here. So this is actually—and I’m going to draw
this line. If I do it correctly from the ball of the
foot—well, that’s supposed to be a straight line. Yeah, it is. There we go. It’s a straight line. So, technically, this is a zero-drop shoe,
but look at all of that cushioning and that is like an inch and a half of cushioning. And let’s go back to this first line right
here, “should not do the work of the foot by providing excessive cushioning.” I’m just saying, that seems like excessive
cushioning. In fact, if you take a look at research from
Irene Davis from Harvard, she investigated shoes like that and found that they do not
in fact reduce the force going through your body with all that extra padding; in fact,
often as I described because your brain wants to get feedback, can sometimes and often increase
forces. So there’s something that’s actually not described
in here about shoe shape that I want to bring up, and that’s a thing called toe spring. That’s this angle here. Toe spring is designed because these soles
are stiff, and with a stiff sole as you’re moving your foot, if it was a stiff flat sole,
you would just be slapping the ground and your foot wouldn’t be able to move naturally. So this toe spring was built in to kind of
let your foot rock forward as you come off the ground, but the problem is your toes are
like this all the time and that’s not natural. So you can see that it looks like there’s
some toe spring in the Xero shoe, but that’s actually, A, just the shape that the shoe
has taken over time because I’ve used it, and B, it naturally flattens out when you
just put any pressure in it. Tiny bit of pressure, totally flattens out. So that’s the difference. And toe spring, again, that’s something that’s
not mentioned in this article. Okay, next characteristic of a good shoe:
“Neutral – means the shoe doesn’t contain motion control or stability components. These extra components interfere with normal
foot motion during weightbearing.” I want to tell you how this whole thing of
motion control and stability came to be. So in early 1970s, when Nike started making
higher-heeled shoes, when you have a higher-heeled shoe, when you put padding under the heel,
you tend to use that padding. It’s just one of these things your brain does
even though it’s not great for you. You use that padding, and so you’re landing
on your heel. Now, your heel—oh, I don’t have it. I normally have a foot skeleton around me. But your heel bone is essentially a ball. Have you ever tried to sit on one of those
stability balls? It’s not stable. Neither is your heel when you’re landing on
your heel. So, suddenly you’re able to land on your heel
but now you’re unstable, so now we have to build in motion control because you’re unstable. Holy smokes. I don’t know if it talks about the arch
thing later but there’s another thing that the reason that they started building in arch
support is when you land on your heel, your foot gets fully extended by the time it comes
down, so that arch you have in your foot gets primarily flattened out and that puts extra
strain. I mean, look at it like this is kind of strong
but relaxed – that’s strained. So that strain is in the plantar fascia, the
part underneath your foot. So when you land on your heel, you’re unstable,
and you land and your plantar fascia are fully extended, they’re in a weak position when
they’re trying to contract. Think of it like your bicep. Your bicep is weaker here, stronger here. Same thing with your foot: It’s weaker here,
stronger here. So land on your heel, it adds all that extra
force, it makes you unstable, and it puts your plantar fascia in a bad position. Otherwise, it’s awesome. Now, some of you might say, “But wait, but
wait – I need pronation control.” Okay, hold that thought. Here we go. Let me just look at this part right here:
“Be aware that all runners pronate or drop the foot inward. Pronation is a normal foot motion during walking
and running. Pronation alone should not be a reason to
select a running shoe. Runners may be told while shopping that because
pronation is occurring, a shoe with arch support is best.” And not just arch support, they like post
this part of the shoe to try to keep you from pronating. In fact, the opposite may be true. Pronation should occur. It’s a natural shock absorber. Stopping pronation with materials in the shoes
may actually cause foot or knee problems to develop. Excessive pronation can occur, and I’ll say
something about that, but in most cases it can be corrected with therapy and exercises
to strengthen the foot, leg and hip, rather than buy a shoe. Benno Nigg did a great bit of research on
this showing how your foot wants to just move naturally and if you add pronation control
it actually can cause your muscles to overwork in ways that they’re not designed to, and
I know other people have researched this as well. But this idea that you need pronation control,
look, if you pronate or someone told you you pronate, I’m betting the person who told you
was either a doctor who was about to prescribe an orthotic for you or a shoe salesman who
was about to prescribe a more expensive shoe with a bunch of pronation control. Again, all the research is pretty clear – pronation
is not a problem. It’s a made-up condition like, oh, just think
of all the drugs that were made up to cure problems that didn’t exist until they had
a drug to cure it. It’s the same kind of thing here. Something to keep in mind. And let me show you another thing. Wait, what’s this about pronation control? “Excessive pronation can occur, but in most
cases can be corrected.” Let me talk about one thing that can cause
excessive pronation. Let’s take a look at this. So look at how flared this sole is. Look at how far out—here, I’m going to draw
this again. So here’s the flare of the sole, here’s the
flare on the heel of the sole, and your heel is actually going to rest right about here. So what this means is that when you’re wearing
this shoe and you’re typically going to land sort of slightly on the outside edge of your
foot normally, you’re going to hit way further out than the actual outside edge of your foot,
and because these soles are typically stiff along this curve—this is going to flatten
out my curve drawing in a second. Oh, it didn’t. Good. What that means is you’re going to hit this
edge and it’s going to make your foot slam to the ground faster. It’s going to pronate faster. So that’s hyperpronation, which can send a
vibration all the way up your leg and that can be problematic. So ironically, the shoe with stability control
can often be causing the problem. In fact, if you put this extra density stuff
right here, that’s designed to control the pronation that’s being caused by this edge
of the shoe over here. So it slams you down, but then and this is
trying to protect it and keep it from moving. And all of that is because if you land on
your heel, you’re on an unstable surface. But again, this is in the forefoot, this line
over here. This heel flare is in the forefoot and midfoot. Let me find another image, like this one. Here you can see the amount of flared out
space of the heel—why’d it do that? Oh, do it this way. You can see that how far out the sole goes
compared to where your foot goes, so that edge is hitting first, which causes your foot
to hyperpronate, to pronate too quickly. That can be problematic. Okay, let’s just take a look at a few things. Oh, I love this. “Where can you look for running shoes? Check in with a local running club and ask
the leadership there where their members commonly purchase shoes or where merchants have a knowledgeable
staff who have expertise with running shoes.” Good luck, because most of the people who
are going to be trying to sell you shoes have learned all of these things from shoe companies
about why for example—so let’s go back here—why for example you need all this padding, why
for example you need all this heel lift, why you need this toe spring, why you need this
flare, why you need all of this motion control and support. Most of the people that you’re going to be
meeting at a running shoe store—most stores—will be telling you, again, the exact opposite
of everything that’s in here in the ACSM report. So finding a knowledgeable staff is going
to be really challenging. You bring this paper to them and they will
argue with you about how you’re wrong. They don’t have research to back it up. They just learned it from shoe company guys
who are selling them their padding, their motion control, their stability, their support. Okay, so here’s something. “How to buy a running shoe: Every time you
shop, have your feet sized at the store.” It’s amazing. Your left and right foot may be a different
size, of course. Your feet will change shape over time. If you start using your feet, if you start
engaging that arch, you can find that your foot gets shorter because your foot is being
naturally pulled up by the stronger muscles, ligaments and tendons that are now in your
body. So you definitely want to measure repeatedly. Don’t be married to a size. Shoe sizes are different between different
brands. Sometimes, even within a brand, one product
might fit one way and another product might fit a different way. So just find what fits. Don’t worry about the size thing. “Foot shape or arch height are not good
indicators of what kind of running shoe to buy.” In other words, just because you think you
have a flat foot or a high arch, that doesn’t tell you what to buy. There’s no correlation between having a flat
foot or a high arch and a specific shoe. Keep that in mind. “Avoid buying shoes based on advice given
after someone in a store has watched you walk. Your gait and foot motion are very different
when you walk and run.” Very, very true. But equally true, if someone put you on a
treadmill, just because they’re watching how you move at 60 frames a second doesn’t mean
that that’s giving you information about what’s appropriate for a shoe. Let’s just go back: “Shoe shouldn’t do the
work of the foot by providing excessive cushioning and lots of extra support in the arch.” Looking at someone running on a treadmill
can be very useful. Looking at 60 frames a second or even fewer
frames a second is not necessarily giving you the information that you need. I mean, as an example, I had some testing
done by the former head of biomechanics and engineering for the US Olympic Committee and
he filmed me at 500 frames a second and in the last two frames, as my right foot was
coming to the ground, it was rotating outward slightly before it touched down. There was some tightness in my hamstring that
was making that happen, but you would never see that at 60 frames a second, or at 16 frames
a second, which is most video, or 24 or 48. Or even 200 frames a second, you wouldn’t
have seen that. But more importantly, someone’s going to
look at you on video – how do you know they know what to look for, they’re good at looking,
and they’re going to take whatever they see and turn that into an appropriate recommendation? Most of the people who are looking at you
on a treadmill have learned how to evaluate that information from a shoe company telling
them, “Here’s what you look for, and then here’s what shoe you put them in.” Mostly it’s going to be shoes that violate
all these things, coming right back to the top. So, be careful about that. In fact, all runners pronate. Yes, that’s true. Okay, so let’s go on. “Buy running shoes at the end of the day
when your feet have swollen as much as they will and the shoes won’t feel as tight.” Great idea. Your feet definitely do change size and shape
based on temperature, based on use, based on whether you’ve just done a big run or
not. So, keep that in mind. “Be sure the shoe has a wide toe box.” Now, did I mention before? I don’t even remember. My favorite thing about this article is that
all the recommendations are not these shoes. The shoes at the top of this article, none
of them are what the ACSM is recommending in this article. Even though these look really wide, that’s
only because those soles flare out kind of like—let’s go back and see—kind of like
this one. So if you look at this from the bottom it
can look pretty wide, but from the top it’s relatively narrow. And so keep in mind, so none of these shoes
actually are what they’re about to recommend with a wide toe box. “Be sure the shoe has a wide toe box. The toe box is the area where your forefoot
and toes are. You should be able to wiggle your toes easily. Narrow toe boxes don’t permit the normal
splay, or spread, of the foot bones during running. This will prevent your feet from being able
to safely distribute forces during the loading phase of the gait.” Let’s go back and take a look at some of these. Not only is this narrow—let’s draw my line—not
only is that narrow, but is this the shape of your foot? No. Your feet are not pointy like that. Your big toe does not come in at that angle. Your little toes, they may do a lot of things. There are different foot shapes. I’m going to delete that. Let’s see if I can delete that and delete
this one. There are different foot shapes. Some people, their toes go almost straight
across. Some people, their toes kind of curve like
this. Some people have a higher second toe, a longer
second toe than their first toe, although technically it’s that their first toe is shorter
than it should be, not that their second toe is longer. That’s the condition I have. It’s called Morton’s toe. Some people, the curve or the angle between
their big toe and their little toe, I’ve seen things that look like this. Lots of different foot shapes, but I’ve never
seen anyone whose foot was shaped like this unless they spent a whole lot of time in shoes
shaped like this. So what’s a variation? Take a look. Here we are again. So just notice, A, nice and wide, shaped more
like a human foot, and it’s not flared out. What you’re seeing on the top is the same
as what you’re seeing on the bottom. So this is designed to let your feet splay,
let your toes splay and spread out. Now, will this fit—like a Xero shoe—will
this fit every human being? No. There are different foot widths as well. If you’re like a 4-quad-e, this shoe is not
going to be wide enough. And the reason that people don’t make shoes
for people with really, really out-there feet is because there’s just not that many people
like that and it’s expensive to make these. We would love to make shoes that fit all human
beings – we’re not a big enough company yet to do that. So, on we go. Now, this is one that’s interesting. Let’s go to this. “There should be at least a half an inch
of room between the toes and the front of the shoe, about enough space to place your
thumb between your big toe and the front of the shoe.” I disagree. And here’s why they make this recommendation,
though—it’s a great recommendation if you’re buying one of these regular shoes—and the
reason why is because of all this foam between the outsole and your foot. Think about taking a phonebook and bending
it. When you bend it, the outside doesn’t bend
a whole lot, the inside is bent a whole lot. The inside effectively gets shorter than the
outside. It’s the same thing in a running shoe with
a lot of foam on the inside, or a lot of foam here. When it bends, the inside becomes effectively
shorter than the outside, and so you need that extra space because as you’re moving
through the gait that shoe will effectively get shorter and your toes can jam up in the
front, then you can knock off your toenails and do all sorts of crazy things. With a shoe like this one from Xero Shoes,
there’s no midsole. There’s no giant chunk of foam. So when it bends, it doesn’t have that same
phonebook effect. So we know people who are sometimes wearing
a smaller size in Xero Shoes than they do in other shoes because they’re not having
to get that extra space to protect themselves from what happens with all that extra foam. So, keep that in mind. With regular shoes, totally need the space. With something like Xero Shoes without all
that foam, you might not. Let’s see. What else? Here we are. “Test the shoe to determine if it’s too
narrow. Take out the insert of the shoes and step
on them on the ground. Does your foot hang over the side of the insert? If so, the shoe is too narrow.” Again, totally true for a shoe like this,
but not necessarily true for one of ours just because the way this is made, it’s so low
to the ground that if your foot extends out further it’s not causing a problem. You’re going to be standing on the material
that’s designed to actually handle a wider foot. So we’ve seen people who they seem to extend
over the—let’s see if I can show it that way—they can extend over the sole, but the
shoe is designed to handle that so it’s not actually a problem. So again, for normal shoes, I totally recommend
with this; not necessarily true for something like ours. This is a really interesting one: “When
you test-run the running shoe, be sure that the heel doesn’t slip.” Okay, so I was at an American Trail Running
Association conference where people were asking, “How, do I prevent heel-slipping?” What makes the heel slip—let’s go back here,
it’s a similar thing—is the stiffness of this sole. So as your foot is trying to bend, if the
sole doesn’t bend as much as your foot, your heel can slip out, and people do a whole
lot of crazy things to try to hold your heel in place when the shoe doesn’t match. But if you take something like Xero Shoes,
these can bend as much as your foot, in fact even more than your foot. So heel-slipping isn’t really a problem with
these, but we also have this huarache-sandal-inspired lacing system that does hold your heel in
place more than shoes that don’t have anything like that. This is functional. It’s not just decorative. You can actually tighten this up so, A, this’ll
bend so your heel stays in, and you can also lock in your heel a little more with that
heel strap. Okay, some shoe qualities to avoid:
High, thick cushioning – we talked about this before. Soft cushioning may actually encourage runners
to adopt worse biomechanics and land with greater impact than shoes with less cushioning. I would just take out the word “may.” It seems to. Shoes that have a high heel cushion and a
low forefoot cushion – again, that high heel-toe drop, that’s really problematic. But again, this one has no drop but tons and
tons of cushioning, so keep that in mind. Extra arch support inserts or store-based
orthotics – they’re often not necessary. They should be considered a temporary fix
until foot strength is increased. A therapist can help you with exercises that
strengthen your foot so you don’t need arch support on a daily basis. Think about that one. Again, if you’ve been keeping something weak,
if you’ve been keeping it in the cast, then all you need to do is get it stronger. You don’t need to keep supporting it. I saw a company that makes an insole and they
had an ad. I won’t mention their name. They had an ad. It was a drawing of a foot in profile and
then a drawing of a barefoot with their sole underneath it, and it said “37% less stress
instantly.” And I asked them, I said, “Were you measuring
stress by measuring muscle activation by using an EMG, an electromyograph?” And they said, “Yeah, we were.” And I said, “So what you’re saying is, when
I step on your insole, my muscles are working 37% less. So I’ve just become almost 40% weaker just
by standing on your insole. Wouldn’t it make more sense if I was trying
to get rid of stress by putting my foot in a cast so I would have 100% less stress?” And they didn’t know how to respond to that. So you don’t want to just keep your foot
supported, immobile, because over time it just gets weaker, weaker, weaker. You can strengthen your foot at any time just
by starting to use them naturally, and that’s of course what I recommend and it’s what the
American College of Sports Medicine recommends as well. Okay, we’re coming into the closing stretch
here. “Be aware when you change from one shoe
to another there should be a transition period where you need to wear the new shoes for part
of a run. Over a couple of weeks, the time wearing the
new shoe can increase till the entire run is performed with the new shoe.” There’s an idea that if you’re going to go
to something that’s really flat, a zero-drop shoe, that you’re supposed to use transition
shoes just to go lower, lower, lower, lower, till you get to something like that. That was made up by companies that sell transition
shoes or sell things that are 10-mil, 6-mil drop shoes, and don’t sell something that’s
a zero-drop shoe. So that’s propaganda, and what you want to
do instead is what they’re suggesting here: Just start with a little bit of time, build
up the amount of time. It’s like going to the gym after your arm
comes out of the cast. You don’t go to the gym immediately and
just do six hours of bicep curls. You do a little bit with a little bit of weight
and over time you add weight, you add reps, you add more intensity. Same thing when you’re switching to a shoe
like what the ACSM is describing, or any shoe really, but especially with what they’re describing. “Exercises to increase foot and hip strength
should be done before and as you transition to the new shoe. When initially exercising in shoes with a
minimal drop, the lower extremities will need to adapt by activating the muscles in the
hip and gluteal (buttock) area. There may be some initial soreness in these
areas for the first couple of weeks.” Listen to what that’s saying. This one’s an amazing thing because what
it’s saying is when you use a shoe like this, you are potentially using the muscles in your
hips and glutes that you weren’t using when you were in a shoe with a big heavy drop and
a whole bunch of cushioning. So just something to think about that you’re
actually using the muscles called “the prime movers” in your body when you let your feet
and butt and legs move naturally. It’s kind of obvious. If you let your body do what it’s designed
to do, it’ll do what it’s designed to do, and the way your hip and butt are designed
to work is with a natural gait, with a natural style, not with a big, elevated, padded thing. “If you’re switching from a shoe with a
high heel-to-toe drop to a shoe with a low drop, consider using a transition shoe with
a moderate heel drop for the first part and then switch.” I have not seen that that’s useful. Again, one of the places I’ll disagree. We’ve had thousands of people just switch
into these and be totally fine. Now, back to the soreness thing, sometimes
people will say if you switch to a shoe that has no drop you’ll get Achilles tendonitis,
your Achilles will get sore, your calves will get sore – totally optional. There are some videos that I have at
that talk about that. Basically, if you’re getting calf soreness,
it’s because you’re doing one of two things. You’re either landing on your toes and decelerating,
which puts strain on your calf, or you’re pushing off too much with your calf, which
puts strain on your calf. Neither of those is necessary. If you land with your foot under your body,
you can land with sort of a midfoot landing or a flatfooted landing so you’re not trying
to decelerate too much with your calves. And rather than pushing off, you want to think
about lifting off – imagine lifting your knees by flexing your hip rather than pushing
your knees off the ground by pushing with your toes. So that will reduce soreness also. Again, starting slow, just like it said before,
just build up the amount of time you’re doing this over time and you won’t have that problem. Here’s another one that’s really interesting
– when should you buy new running shoes? “General rule of thumb: Purchase new shoes
for every 350 miles. But, limited science has not identified the
ideal timeframe for all running shoes. Different shoes will vary in wear based on
what materials they’re made from, whether the shoes are used for more than running. Faster wear may occur if the shoes are used
for other activities.” So let’s back up and talk about why there’s
that recommendation of 300 to 500 miles. So first, all of this foam, this foam compresses
over time. Now Phil Maffetone, who’s a brilliant running
coach especially long-distance running, he used to recommend just getting the simplest
shoe you could, or what he loves to say is, “If you get a shoe with foam in it, usually
it only gets good once the foam has fully compressed when they’re telling you to replace
it. Once the foam has compressed and it becomes
more like a zero-drop thing without a big elevated heel, without all that excessive
cushioning.” So A, they’re recommending that because the
foam that they’re trying to sell you as being valuable has decomposed or has compressed
out by that time, and B, look at how thin the rubber is here. So it just so happens that by the time that
foam compresses this rubber is probably wearing out. What a shock. I’m getting punchy at this point. Just as a comparison, this is about 5-1/2
millimeters of solid rubber. We call it FeelTrue rubber. We developed it specifically to give you protection,
but also give you ground feedback so your brain can feel what’s happening with those
things at the end of your legs and tell your whole body how to move correctly. Our soles have a 5000-mile warranty. When we designed these soles with a rubber
manufacturer—we designed the rubber with a rubber manufacturer—he said, “But that’s
not what running shoe companies do,” and we said, “Yeah, we know!” So keep in mind that that advice about 350
miles, plus or minus, is based on the construction of that shoe, and that’s, I would argue, it
may be planned obsolescence. I don’t have any proof of that. Seems potentially likely. But some of it’s just, again, the materials. Regardless of how much planning you do, there’s
no foam that’s going to just stand up forever. It compresses, compresses, compresses over
time. “If there are any wear patterns on the shoes
that reveal the sole layers underneath, discard the shoes. Uneven wear can cause changes in running mechanics
that lead to injury.” Now, the wear pattern is going to be interesting
because it’s going to tell you what you’re doing. And so the reality is what you’re seeing in
the wear pattern is going to talk to you about frankly how the shoe is probably altering
your gait so that you’re applying more force than is necessary in those places that are
wearing heavily, maybe because you’re scraping your foot on the ground or landing, again,
by basically applying braking forces, or you’re landing with that flared heel. That can put abrasion on the outside of your
heel. And if you’re pronating—I mean, all those
things can be telling you more about the shoe than about you. And if you go back to what the ACSM is recommending,
something that’s just giving you protection without excessive padding, without excessive
support, you’re going to find that in that case the wear patterns may actually be more
informative about what’s happening with your form in a way that you might want to
pay attention to to reduce that. So when with say that the soles have a 5000-mile
sole warranty, it doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to last that long. It means that we’ll replace them if they don’t,
or pending what we have at But if they don’t last very long, that’s
going to be pointing to some form issues that you may want to address, you may want to correct. And you’ll be getting that feedback. It’s not a Rorschach test. You’ll be getting a map of what your body
is doing that you can use to become a better runner. Holy smokes. That is way, way more than I had any intention
of saying. I don’t know how long this video has gone
but certainly longer than I expected. But more importantly, I hope this helps you
understand the reality behind running shoes compared to the mythology of running shoes,
which is what most people are telling you when they’re trying to sell you shoes. Again, it’s unabashed that I’m hoping that
you try out a pair of—this is our Xero Shoes Prio—I’m hoping you try our stuff out because
it does almost everything that the ACSM is suggesting. The only thing it didn’t—what didn’t it
say? Oh, half an inch of room. That’s not about the shoes. That’s just about fit. Pretty much ev—yeah, not too narrow. Oh, whether the insole is wider than your
foot or not. But almost everything they recommend—no,
not almost. Everything they recommend is what this shoe
does. So of course, I hope you get it, but not because
I’m trying to convince you of anything, because I’m hoping that you see that what the American
College of Sports Medicine says and what we’re doing are completely consistent, and that
makes you interested in trying something like the Xero Shoes Prio or any of our other shoes
or sandals. I hope this was useful. I can’t wait to hear what you think. I hope you stuck with me this long. More importantly, the most important thing
about finding a good running shoe is so you can go out and have fun, you can enjoy yourself,
and I hope you do that regardless of what shoe you buy. As we say at Xero Shoes though, just feel
the freedom, feel the fun, feel the world, live life feet first.


  • First 😀

  • Another great video, with really great information. Thank you very much for going through this article. Love my Prios!

  • Excellent information thanks. I have a copy in my bag of the same article which I came across about a year ago when I started running. I'm so glad I read the article before getting indoctrinated with the poor information that the majority of shoe makers follow. Thanks for making a shoe company that follows sound information and research into what's actually good for you.

  • Brilliant video, love your sandals, love your passion. Thank you for sharing this knowledge and explaining the issues in layman’s terms.

  • Thanks for this great video! 
    You had my full attention from beginning to end. Some say that minimalist shoes are devolving as footwear and I'll will surely lead them here to this video next time.

  • This is great! I was just trying to explain this to my friend today. Now I can just send her this video!

  • Awesome video. A few years back I thought I knew what I was doing by buying the most expensive shoe I could find. It was a very reputable brand, but a support Frankenstein. I ended up with achilles tendinitis only after a few runs. To this date that was the worst pain I've ever experienced running. Fast forward to today, I've been running in your sandal brand for about three years. Not only am I a better runner, but I get so much more out of my runs that it has made me a lot stronger all around. I'm looking forward to my Prios coming!

  • Great advise, but there are times I prefer my Altra's above my Xero's.
    It would have been worth mentioning other alternatives to the cushioned running shoes you've showed. Now it looks as if all cushioned running shoes are bad, which is not the case.

  • I'm barefoot most of the time, but when I do wear shoes, I wear Xeroshoes. I have a couple of pairs and they're the only shoes I own. I get a lot of questions about my shoes or bare feet and people throw all the "conventional wisdom" (myths and propaganda) so I'm glad I can finally point them to this video that breaks down why most mainstream shoes are HURTING YOU with real research and a proper understanding of foot mechanics. Awesome job!

  • Great info.

  • I wish you had z-trek sandals with no Heel cup, are you working on making one?

  • Dude. Your website has some of the worst response time I’ve ever seen. My wife asked a question about a month ago and it took over a week for her to get a response. I submitted one 3 days ago. No response. Customer service. Just sayin. Do better.

  • Thank you for another awesome video! I am practicing chiropractor, passionate about helping restore the body to its natural position and function. It is abundantly clear that footwear is imperative to maintaining proper structure. With so much information out there on minimalist shoes, I'm going to have to have an entire section on my channel related to foot health!

  • Nice, but I think you are wrong about the arch. In sports like boxing and martial arts, you are always working off the forefoot. I'm a barefoot runner with a nice healthy arch and my heels never hit the ground when I run. I think my writing introduces the subject of how important it is for the calves to maintain tone from landing through extension and putting the heel down interferes with this. Plantar fascia can't maintain the arch in strong running — strong toe flexors are needed for that (or a shitty arch in your shoes).

  • Excellent video, Stephen. Thanks for these great information and the rich level of insights.

    What I like best is how you make comprehensible examples that help people understand how these over-engineered high-tech shoes stand against everything evolution has designed our feet for.

    The concepts you explain here are actually dead simple and logical. Use your muscles less and they'll become weaker. Take the ability to feel the ground, and your brain will unlearn how to walk naturally.

    My mom has a medical condition that requires her to wear shoes with different heights, which makes her wearing shoes all the time. Lately we saw a Chinese lady in a park, walking barefoot over washed concrete to massage or train her feet. My mom tried it too, and I was shocked to see her being unable to stand, let alone to walk on this uneven surface.
    This showed me even more how important it is to use our feet as naturally as possible, the way the are designed. Thank you, Stephen, for your relentless work to point that out! ????

  • Here is my Xero shoes experience. I ordered a pair of Terraflex. I followed the instruction on their website and ordered them a 1/2 size larger than my normal 10.5. The size 11's were too small so I sent them back and got an 11.5. They are comfortable and I like them so I ordered a pair of Hana's. Their website says the Hana's run true to size but I was skeptical so I ordered them in an 11.5 instead of 10.5. They were still too small so I returned them for a size 12. After waiting for 2 weeks they emailed me stating that they didn't have any Hana's in a size 12 and wouldn't have them until next spring. They offered me a choice between a refund or another style. I elected to get the Prio's in an 11.5. I received them and the left shoe fits fine but the right one is too small. Now I have to send them back for a refund. I've never had this problem with any other brand and quite frankly while i like Xero shoes well enough they are not worth the trouble.

  • Nice.

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