Advances in design and science mean that top of the range running shoes are more technical than ever. With advanced computer modeling software, creators can now develop shoes that work exactly in line with how humans run.
UK-based company, Reebok are credited with one of the first purpose-built sports shoes when, in the late 1800's they invented a shoe designed for running that featured spikes. Something that had never been done before, the inventor was a keen runner himself and found that the spikes provided more grip on softer surfaces and helped him to run faster than before.
Two of the biggest companies in the sporting footwear industry were actually founded by brothers. Adi Dassler created Adidas, and his brother Rudolph formed Puma. Formed in 1925, Adidas also included shoes with spikes to help runners, offering a selection of different styles for runners of varying distance.
A great deal of research was done in the early 1970's to see exactly h ow humans run. Research that nowadays, with the benefit of computer software, is much easier than it was back then.
The research concentrated on the damage caused to the human body, especially the knee and thigh joints as a result of prolonged running on different surfaces.
The results of the study showed 3 main styles of running; Neutral, Pronation and Supenation.
Neutral running means the runners foot lands flat on the ground and doesn't roll either inwards or outwards, but the foot travels in a straight line. This style of running is often the best for endurance running.
Pronation - This style of running is where the foot rolls inwards as it hits the ground, and moves to the side as it travels forwards. Common injuries caused by this type of running are Tarsel tunnel syndrome, shin splints and bunyons.
Supenation - The style is opposite of Pronation - In this case, the foot rolls outwards. Excessive supenation can cause ankle sprains and shin splints.
There are now various versions of running shoes developed to cope with whatever style of running yo u have. A great deal of shoes use varying density of foam in parts of the sole to offer extra and firmer cushioning where needed to minimise damage to your body by excessive running.
Other advances in running shoes technology include the Nike Air Sole which was created in 1972. The inventor put rubber into his waffle machine at homeand stuck the resulting 'waffle sole' onto a standard pair of running shoes. The runners who tested the new invention raved about it, and the lightweight sole revolutionised the running shoe market.
More recently, brands such as Skechers have entered the running shoe arena. Their 'Skechers Resistance Runner' technology is designed to replicate running in soft sand. The sole cushions the impact on the feet in every step, supposedly resulting in a much smoother and faster run.
With continuing advances in composite materials and computer modelling, it seems that running shoe technology will continue to advance further still.