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Shock Absorption in Shoes: What is it and What you Need to Know

Shock absorption sounds like a superpower! But it’s actually a term describing how our shoes provide impact protection from the ground, floors and pavement. This benefits our foot health, but it also begins the upward “chain of command” of protecting the joints, bones and muscles in our knees, back and legs. Shock absorption in shoes typically involves innovative footwear technology and high-quality shoe design. Let’s review everything you need to know about this fascinating topic!

Woman putting running shoe on foot

The Science Behind Shock Absorption in Shoes

You may be familiar with how cars have pump-like systems called shock absorbers, which dampen impulses from driving on the pavement. Your shoes are similar, but the physics are a little different! 

Shoes with a good amount of shock absorption may include the following components:

  • Solid shoe cushioning in the insole, often made from gel, foam, etc. 
  • Midsoles made from comfortable and sometimes dense materials, like EVA foam. These midsoles are often able to compress and then return to their original shape during movement. 
  • Durable outsoles, made from materials like rubber. 
  • Extra heel cushioning for heel striking. 

These features work together to protect your feet from developing musculoskeletal foot conditions, which include but aren’t limited to: 

Think about it this way: nobody wants to walk a mile in flip flops! There would be virtually nothing in between the bottom of your foot and the ground’s surface, and you would feel fatigue, pain and overall discomfort afterwards. The longer you ignore foot support and shock absorption, the more wear and tear you will sustain! 

And this affects more than just your feet — your entire body feels the impact. The pain starts at the foundation, your feet, but it will trickle upward to other body parts (knees, back, etc) since your muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones are all connected to ensure our body moves efficiently and with stability. 

Who Needs Shock Absorption The Most?

Athletes, especially runners, benefit from shock absorption. With each stride, they are hitting the pavement, trails and floors harder than anyone else. They need high-quality athletic footwear that retains most of its shock absorbing abilities after long-term use.  

But it’s not just all-star athletes. Everyday folks enjoying an outdoor walk in downtown Toronto, or people with disabilities like severe arthritis, should also be mindful of the ground’s impact on the feet and body. 

A Final Note on Shock Absorption

Shock absorption can be a balancing act. Sometimes “less is more” and you want to be careful of completely eliminating the “ground feel.” 

For example, overly cushioned shoes and a very elevated outsole might not be right for people with mobility challenges or those who need walking shoes instead of running shoes. Both can lead to instability and a heightened risk of sustaining a foot injury. 

Athletes should also be careful. Sometimes, too soft or too thick soles can affect sensory feedback and lead to a fall.

Don't Be Shocked By Your Foot Needs!

Attending a professional shoe fitting is a good way to learn about shock absorption and other beneficial shoe features. Toronto’s Feet First Clinic is your go-to one-stop-shop for all things shoes, treatment and more! Call us at (416) 769-3338 or book an appointment here!

Banner image by Drobotdean from Freepik, second body image by Awesomecontent from Freepik, first and third body image from Freepik! 

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Carolina Charles

Patient Relation Coordinator (She/Her)

If you’ve been to the clinic before, chances are you had the pleasure of meeting Carolina! Carolina’s daily goal is going above and beyond to make sure patients are always completely satisfied. Having worked in the podiatry industry for 22 years, Carolina brings a wealth of knowledge pertaining to client service, insurance policies, and procedures.​ She steers the ship to make sure everything runs smoothly on the daily. Carolina is known for spicing up every outfit with her signature costume jewellery.