I found the article in the Pedorthic Newswire Issue # 228 a few days ago. The title of the article was “The Proper Fit: What athletes need to know about shoes.” It first appeared in a newspaper’s website in Ontario Canada and was written by a certified pedorthists.
The article started by telling the reader, “When selecting a running shoe, or any shoe for that matter, there are a few important features to look for.” It then went on to talk about a strong heel counter, a strong shank, the best time of the day to shop for shoes, wearing the same socks that you plan to walk or run in when trying on shoes, and measuring your foot every time you purchase new shoes. This is all great advice. I have talked about this stuff for years.
It was the next paragraph that I did not agree with. It read, “Features to avoid: Airbags, liquid gel, "shocks," "rebound," "bounce," although aesthetically pleasing, are characteristics that should be avoided. These features can create greater instability with walking and running if any biomechanical abnormalities are present within the gait cycle. Also, if there is a breakdown of the airbag, liquid gel, "shock," "rebound," or "bounce," the shoe itself becomes unstable, which places the foot in an undesirable position, leading to pain and discomfort in the feet, legs and lower back.”
Excuse me… I have owned many pairs of Nike Air running shoes with their little air bags. I love them. Several are many years old and still hold their shock absorbing value. Not to say one of the airbags could never blow or be punctured by a thorn, but I’ll take that chance. The same goes for the gel and other shock absorbing devices. If there were problems, I know the shoe companies would rework the shoes.
Here is an image from a patent website for United States Patent 6562427. It shows a schematic for a shoe airbag. It’d give you the full description but it would probably bore you. Here is just a bit of the text from the abstract for 6562427:
“An airbag for shoes has a plurality of elastically compressible cylindrical cushion members which are interconnected in a predetermined array by a connecting plate. The cushion members/connecting plate combination is encapsulated in a casing. The cushion members, connecting plate and casing are joined together to form an integral unit. The cushion members have a spiral groove formed in their outer surface which increases their compressibility during the initial phase of compression.”
Shoes with these features are valuable to those who need them. I think most of us are smart enough to know if the shoe suddenly felt “funny” or bottomed out because of a system failure, we would stop wearing the shoes. I will continue to buy any shoe that fits well and works on my feet – regardless if they have any one of the aforementioned features. I hope you will too. After all, my main goal is to keep my feet happy.