You may or may not have seen this article: The painful truth about trainers: Are running shoes a waste of money? A friend of mine posted it to Facebook with a comment that he was going to go return his shoes. Surely he was joking, but still, it got me to read the article and it's really a fascinating read.
This article spawned what I call a "thought thread". It made me look at something in a different context and follow the connections to see a new picture. I'm sure the picture I'm viewing is far from complete, but it's new for me and that made the article a success.
America has a health crisis in that more and more people are suffering from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Along with a healthy diet, the best preventive measure for this is exercise. Running is great exercise, arguably the most natural and effective exercise there is. So people should be running more. For most people, running shoes facilitate running. Part of that is marketing (we think we need them), part of it is culture (everybody else wears them), and part of it is geographical (people who live in cities, etc.). So in that respect, running shoes could logically be treated as a kind of medical device. Even more interestingly, the article alludes to running shoes actually causing more injuries in runners. So maybe they should be tested as a safety hazard as well... Should the FDA be testing running shoes (or would that be another department)? Has Consumer Reports ever tackled this?
I wonder what would happen if the running shoe companies were subjected to some rigorous scientific testing to determine just how beneficial their products are. My hunch is that the results wouldn't be quite so dramatic, probably more in line with the last section of the article. Running barefoot would be found superior, but the use of shoes would be found beneficial for most runners, and the overall benefits experienced by runners would outweigh the injury costs experienced by those who run.
Anyway, even more interesting would be knowing which shoes (and shoe companies) are putting out the most "dangerous" shoes for runners. If anyone has any better articles on this, please let me know.