Are expensive running shoes worth the money?
Absolutely. Because the technical running shoe may be the most comfortable shoe that you will wear. So instead of asking if expensive running shoes are worth the money, ask instead if really comfortable sneakers are worth the money.
In-line technical running shoes can cost as much as $200. But they can cost as little as $50 if they’re close-outs.
Let’s talk about what makes technical running shoes so comfortable.
The preferred movement path
This is a concept that appeared in print in 2001, in a paper authored by Benno Nigg. Each bone, tendon, ligament, and muscle (in the lower-limb), he proposes, rests in a particular place, or is activated in a particular way.
When bones are in their preferred positions and the muscles are being activated in their preferred way, the person will be moving with the least amount of energy.
Shoes can interfere with the preferred movement path. They can cause some small disturbance in the position of the bones or the electrical activity of the muscles. That can cause the person to use more energy to move.
That interference will probably make the shoes feel uncomfortable.
There is an outstanding diversity of expensive running shoes
…which means they give you plenty of opportunities to find a pair that’s comfortable for you.
Technical running shoes are made with a wide range of materials. They have different geometries. One finds a wide range of lengths and widths among these shoes. Because there are so many different combinations of shapes and sizes and materials, technical running can accommodate a number of different preferred movement paths.
Shoe manufacturers don’t use the term ‘preferred movement path.’ They use the terms ‘neutral,’ ‘pronation,’ and ‘supination.’ Those terms refer to gait, which is what the feet and ankles do between foot strike and toe-off. Manufacturers design shoes specifically for neutral, pronating and even supinating gaits. Some manufacturers make a number of shoes for each of those gaits.
All of those different options increase the chance that you will find a comfortable shoe. The most comfortable shoe is probably the shoe that best cooperates with your preferred movement path.