Running shoes have come into the running scene in the early 1970s. With their striking design and cushioning, these shoes got massive popularity amongst the Runners. But have you ever thought about what sorts of shoes people used before the invention of running shoes?
Before the invention of Running shoes, people were using flat shoes for quite a long time. Flat shoes were predominantly used by the runners because there were no other shoes available for road running.
But over the years, we get used to wearing high-heeled, well-cushioned running shoes because of their compatibility and comfortableness. So, now an inevitable question arises, “can I use flat shoes for Running? “
As you are into this article, I guess you also have this same question in mind. Don’t worry, mate, I got your back. The following is an article where I will answer this particular question along with some other frequently asked questions by the runners like you.
Wearing Flat Shoes for Running
The answer is Yes, definitely you can wear flat shoes for running. Flat shoes are also called barefoot shoes or minimalist shoes. However, if you are already accustomed to cushioned running shoes and want to switch to flats, you should consider some crucial aspects.
Running shoes have elevated heels and tons of cushioning. They can change the way you strike the ground. When you run wearing running shoes, you put your impact on the heel because of the elevated heel of your shoes and also the cushioning they come with.
On the other hand, flat shoes have very little or no cushioning at all. So, it makes you feel like running barefoot. When you run wearing flat shoes, you pound the earth with your toes or midfoot because of the lack of cushioning and zero heel drop of these shoes.
Running barefoot is a better way to improve your stride. But as an urban dweller, it’s not always easy for many of us to run barefoot as there are many unwanted objects like nails or broken glasses on the road. So flat shoes are a better option to run on the road while preventing your legs from unwanted injuries. Flat shoes are also better for improving your stride. Your front foot stride helps you boost your energy and speed while running. If you are planning to participate in a marathon or any race, flat shoes will come in handy.
The Transition from Running Shoes to Flat Shoes
However, the transition from running shoes to flat shoes is not easy at all. You will fatigue your legs and feel exhausted from aches and pains at the beginning of your transition. Don’t switch into flat shoes just before you run a marathon. Practice at least 3 months wearing flats before you plan to participate in any race or marathon.
How Do You Make the Transition from Running Shoes to Flat Shoes?
Don’t go cold turkey if you want to wear flat shoes for running instead of running shoes. It can be very harmful. Don’t underestimate the possibilities of potential injuries even if you are young and healthy.
Don’t run long distances wearing flats at the beginning of your transition. Instead, try walking short distances wearing flat shoes. For example, if you do grocery shopping or take your dog outside, try to cover these distances wearing flat shoes; when you are strolling on the roads or in the nearby park/forests, try wearing them to strengthen your legs. Going for walks wearing flat shoes will make you comfortable gradually.
After you feel at ease, you can incorporate small jogs or sprints to get more used to them. Once you get accustomed to flats, you can increase your mileage. Still, don’t take the heavy mileage that you used to do with your running shoes. Run 1 km on the first day. Then, if you feel comfortable and do not have any aches or pains, increase your mileage day by day. After three months or so, you will get used to run in flat shoes.
In short, follow these steps before your transition into flat shoes :
· Take preparations
· Don’t start running wearing flat shoes until you feel comfortable in them.
· Start by walking short distances wearing flat shoes.
· Once comfortable, increase your mileage.
· After getting comfortable in walking, start running short distances.
· Don’t haste; take your time and increase your mileage gradually.
If interested, you can check our related article, are Nike Blazers suitable for running?
Are flat shoes beneficial or harmful for my health?
Flat shoes are beneficial for your health as they increase your legs’ elasticity, strength, and proprioceptive power to sprint. However, since they lack proper support and cushioning, they are not recommended for beginner runners. With the long-term training and guidelines, you will get used to them. If you start running wearing improper shoes that don’t fit your feet, you will end up injuring yourself.
Flat shoes are very lightweight and highly flexible. They don’t have much padding and cushioning, also come with a very thin sole. Their construction allows you to feel the ground you run on, hence increasing your feet’ strength. So opting for flats shoes for Running can be an excellent choice. However, don’t forget to take precautions.
Running Without Running Shoes
We often hear a frequently asked question: “Do I need running shoes for running?” The answer is, “Not necessarily.”
People are running in any sort of rubber shoes. Even some of them run barefoot without wearing any shoes at all. But, Should you do it too?
You can run barefoot if you want to. But as an urban dweller, it may get you injured from the rusted nails and broken glass pieces or any unwanted objects on the ground. But if you can run on a football field or on the beach sand, you can prefer barefoot running.
However, you can opt for zero-dropped shoes or minimalist shoes instead of barefoot running. There are shoes like New Balance Minimus line. They come with zero heel drop and just enough padding to protect your legs. These flat shoes will help you strengthen your legs.
But as a beginner, you should not run in flat shoes. Running in flat shoes without any prior training and preparations will give you more trouble than benefits. So, you can start with running shoes if you’re not running barefoot.
Running shoes are incomparable because they are lightweight, well-cushioned, and durable. Running shoes are manufactured especially for running-specific activities. So, it is pretty common that you will get benefitted wearing them when you run. You can take heavy mileage wearing running shoes. But other non-running-specific shoes will wear out fast if you run wearing them.
Athletic shoes are often considered the best alternative to running shoes as sports like tennis and basketball allow running. But those shoes are not perfect for running long distances. Basketball shoes and tennis shoes are good for lateral movement, abrupt stopping, changing directions, short sprints. In short, they are the best options for the movements that an athlete does on the court. They are heavy and bulky. So, wearing them for running can not be a good choice.
Can Men Wear Women’s Shoes?
Yes, surely men can wear women’s shoes. If you want to wear them and find them comfortable, you should go for them. Shoes shouldn’t be gender-specific.
But some shoes are gender-specific, like high-heeled ladies’ shoes. So you can not wear them, or you will not want to wear them.
The only problem men wearing women’s shoes is the sizing of the shoes. Generally, women’s shoes are smaller in size. They are narrower too. They need more padding and cushioning. Women’s shoes also need more shock absorption and more flexibility. Women’s physique is different from that of men’s, so it’s pretty normal that women’s legs also vary in size compared to their male counterparts.
When you think of buying women’s shoes, you have to understand the size difference between men’s and women’s shoes. Generally, the difference is just one and a half size difference. So, if you want to buy a pair of women’s shoes, you need to buy a bigger size than your actual shoe size. For example, if you wear shoes that are of size 9, you have to buy a women’s pair of shoes that are 10.5 in size.
Now comes the question of colors. Gone are the days when people used to think women wear pink or deep colors and men wear white and black colors. You can wear any sort of shoes if you feel like wearing them. So don’t bother about the colors unless you really care about the people’s opinion much.
Can women wear men’s shoes?
If you are a woman and want to wear men’s shoes, you obviously can wear them. There is no specific difference between them other than their sizing.
Typically, men have larger feet than women in length and width. So, manufacturers produce shoes keeping the size difference in mind.
So if you want to buy men’s shoes, buy one and a half size larger than your actual shoe size. For example, if your shoes are of 8 sizes, buy 9.5 size shoes. That will fit in your feet.
However, when you go to a physical shop to buy shoes, you can wear them for a moment. Then, walk inside the shop for a while, if you find them perfectly fit in your feet, you can wear them easily. But if you buy from an online shop, keep in mind that you have to buy one and a half size bigger shoes than your actual shoe size.
Using flat shoes for running is a crucial decision. This article should clear up any confusion you may have about this question. There’s nothing bad in flat shoes. People were using flat shoes for a long time without injuring themselves before the invention of running shoes. But the transition from running shoes to flat shoes is difficult. You will have to adjust yourself and get used to wearing flat shoes. Don’t do the transition hastily.
Men wearing women’s shoes or women wearing men’s shoes can be pretty normal if you are comfortable with it. Shoes are not gender-specific. Just keep in mind that you need to be careful about the sizing when wearing opposite-gender shoes. Generally, women’s shoes are a bit smaller. So before making your purchase, check them properly.