John is a runner looking for a new pair of running shoes. He wants something light and thin.
Minimalist shoes have dominated the conversation in recent years.
Barbara Morris, with the USF Department of Orthopedics and Sports medicine, explains why.
“There's a lot of research on the minimalist shoe. The idea was that is how we walk when we’re not in shoes,” she said. “Some research says it’s good and it didn't increase but prevented some injuries. And then there is other research that says maybe it helped with our knees, but it might have put more pressure on our Achilles tendon.”
So there’s good and bad. In the past few months, fat-soled running shoes hit the market – big- colorful versions of grandma's orthopedic shoes.
There isn't much research to study on these shoes. Abby Sims is the assistant manager of Fit2Run in Tampa.
“Fat-soled shoes just means there's a large mid-sole and there is a lot of cushioning to the shoe,” she said. “The whole purpose behind a lot of cushioning is it's a lot easier on your joints and your muscles when you are running.”
But, Morris warns, “You've got a really thick bottomed shoe. So common sense is if our foot is raised off the ground, we have a greater chance of turning our ankle.”
So how do you know which shoe you need? Morris says base your decision on the type of foot you have and the way you run.
“I walk on the outside of my feet, and I'm a heel striker,” she said. “If you look at my shoe you can see the grooves – see how I wear on the outside of my heel and the outside of my shoe.”
She says she wouldn't want a shoe that rolls her to the outside farther. So how do you get to know your foot? Morris says, "Seeing a podiatrist or foot specialist is the most accurate way."
Or go to a running store where your gait can be analyzed and experts can help you figure out whether you need less or more cushioning.