While our ancestors may have chased beasts across the plains sans shoes, anyone who has tried to run on city streets can tell you that running shoes are a necessity for modern society. Styles of running shoes vary widely, but many are similar in that they provide the same types of benefits for not just your feet but your entire body. Learning about the benefits of running shoes can help you make more informed choices, or give you an excuse to go shoe shopping -- your pick.
Whether you train on dirt roads in the country or tackle 5Ks on gravelly city streets, you're probably aware that many areas of the ground are not ideal for bare flesh. The science publication "Smithsonian" magazine notes that one of the "fundamental" roles of running shoes is to "protect us from broken glass, nails and other dangerous debris often found on city streets and sidewalks." But that's not all; running shoes can also protect you from rain, cold snow and the little presents left by your neighbor's dog.
Running has the potential to provide great health benefits, but you won't get those benefits if you can't stay healthy. Luckily, the cushioning in running shoes can help you prevent injuries associated with this activity. While slips and falls can still occur, cushioning may help prevent and treat conditions such as shin splints and plantar fasciitis. Strong cushioning may also help you stave off stress fractures and other overuse injuries. You may also wish to take advantage of natural cushioning, such as running on grass rather than concrete, but when that's not possible, your shoe's cushioning can help as well.
No one is born perfect, and that extends to running stride and gait. Many runners experience pronation, or an excessive rolling or flattening of your foot. This can result in injuries such as bunions, Achilles tendinitis and shin splints. In response to this phenomenon, many running shoe manufacturers design shoes that encourage a more normal stride by discouraging pronation.
Confidence can do a lot for you when running -- and during other activities -- because it helps inspire motivation, intensity and positivity. Confidence can come from many places, including your running shoes. Knowing that you have a good quality pair of shoes will give you confidence in your performance and will allow you to perform at a high intensity, knowing you're protected from injury. And you can also draw confidence from the fact that you look awesome, assuming your shoes are stylish.
Brian Willett began writing in 2005. He has been published in the "Buffalo News," the "Daytona Times" and "Natural Muscle Magazine." Willett also writes for Bloginity.com and Bodybuilding.com. He is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of North Carolina.