Running Through The Years: Evolution of Running Shoes

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The field of sports has always been an interesting world to explore. Not only because it consists of many outstanding individuals such as Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, but also because sports gameplay has an intriguing background! Did you know that tennis racket strings were first produced using cow intestines? Or that golf balls were once called “feathery balls” because they were made of boiled feathers stuffed in a leather pouch? Knowing their origins, it would not be hard to develop a deeper appreciation of your favourite sport. If you’re a budding runner, you might be looking at your newly bought running shoes right now and thinking how did this pair of shoes first come about? Well, there is a lot to know about the evolution of running shoes!

Running shoe technology has developed significantly over the years. Brands are the biggest contributors to their development because they are continuously working towards creating shoes to give runners the most comfortable ride and an all-important edge. So, thanks to them, you can run and jog comfortably even with the cheapest running shoes you’ve got – Especially since the first running shoes were actually made out of leather!

Running Shoes Design Evolution

As far back as 1920, sprinters were wearing leather shoes when they ran the roads. In fact, Clarence DeMar, the most famous American Olympic athlete at the time, was wearing thin shoes made of crepe rubber and leather uppers when he won first place at the Boston Marathon seven times in a row! Interestingly, these leather shoes were typically custom-made to fit wearers and would only weigh less than 10 ounces. One can observe that even back then, lightweight shoes were highly valued. That’s why running shoes are still made to feel weightless and is a major factor to consider when buying shoes today.

It was not long after, 20 years to be exact, that side stripes were added under running shoes by the Dassler brothers (founders of Adidas). These were specially made for runners who compete in track and cross country races that require stability to withstand running on uneven and difficult terrain.

On the other side of the world, split-toe shoes were an interesting invention by the Japanese trainer company Onitsuka. These were also the shoes that led Japanese long-distance runner, Shigeki Tanaka , to victory in the 1951 Boston Marathon. Nevertheless, it wasn’t long before split-toe shoes fell out of favour when the New Balance Trackster Model was introduced in the 1960s. Thanks to its smart design of the rippled outsole, it allowed for enhanced traction, better shock absorption, and prevented shin splints injuries! As a result, many runners found them to be the most ideal shoes for them.

Now that running store brands understand the function of shoes when it came to running, they started making bright, lightweight, and expensive shoes in the 1970s. It was at this time that wearing running shoes became a status symbol! In 1974, the introduction of Nike’s Waffle Trainer, was the breakthrough model that even wealthy people who only saw running as active leisure, had to get a pair for themselves. In addition, there have been other significant evolutions happening in this decade, such as:

  • The making of running shoes for women
  • Placing more emphasis on cushioning and motion control
  • NASA designing the first air-cushioned athletic shoe

Not to be outdone by the other decades, the 1980s was when companies first attempted to meld technology with running shoes. We’re talking about the Adidas Micropacer that had an electric pedometer stitched into the tongue of the shoes! It’s innovative design was truly iconic back then. Fast forward to today, pedometers have evolved to become small mobile devices that connect your shoes to your Apple device, allowing you to record the distance and pace of your runs. It may be a pricey investment but its potential to tremendously improve running performance is unmatched.

Running Shoes Today

Looking back at the evolution of running shoes, it is evident that competition amongst brands is tight. These days, you will see a wide selection of sneakers that cater to your specific style and needs in most running stores in Singapore. While athletes have long appreciated the care that these brands put in their products, they have become more careful in choosing running shoes. Many of them often consider the following factors when choosing the most suitable running shoes for them:

Stack height

This term refers to the amount of material between your foot and the ground. Stack heights can be labelled as either barefoot, minimally cushioned, maximal, or highly cushioned. For runners who prefer a natural running experience, they often opt for running shoes with minimal cushioning.

Heel-toe offset

Also known as heel-toe drop, offset refers to the numerical difference between the amount of material under the heel and the amount of material under the forefoot. This feature ensures proper shock absorption when landing and even cheap running shoes have them. Different types of runners require different heel-toe drops. For example, if you use a heel-strike when you land, you may prefer a higher heel-toe drop as that means there’s more cushion for your heels. For those who use a mid-foot strike, they may prefer a lower heel-toe drop.

Pronation control

Pronation is defined as the inward movement of the foot as it rolls in order to accurately distribute the force of impact from running. As such, pronation control is often the most important factor when determining the best running shoes as overpronation can lead to running injuries. Luckily, current running shoes are built with many smart designs to decrease such risks. This may come in the form of extra support around the ankles, the heels or the arches. As it is dependent on your running gait, it will be beneficial to consult a running specialist to get a clearer idea of what kind of pronation control you need.

Aside from the technical aspects of running shoes, some wearers also take breathability and aesthetic design into consideration when selecting the right pair. Shoes constructed from polyester knit or nylon mesh often let runners experience the level of comfort that they feel when they run barefoot! Whether neon or minimalist, runners can now choose shoes that fit their aesthetic!

 

Cheap Running Shoes at Decathlon

The evolution to achieving well-designed running shoes may have been long but it has led to a diverse range of shoes being made available to the public. Fortunately, this also means that you can find affordable shoes in most running stores in Singapore!

When you shop at Decathlon, you can get quality shoes at a reasonable price. Check them out today!

 

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