Memory foam is a material often featured in the latest running shoes and is mainly known for its plush, cushioned feel that molds to your foot for ultimate comfort.
In this article, we’ll be discussing whether or not memory foam is good for running, and the pros and cons of memory foam shoes.
What is memory foam?
Memory foam is a material made primarily of polyurethane, with chemicals added to it to increase its density. Memory foam is sensitive to temperature change, which allows the material to mold to the shape of your foot.
It also distributes your weight and provides a plush, comfortable feel.
Are memory foam shoes good for running?
When it comes to running, comfort is usually your biggest concern, especially when you’re a distance runner. You may also be thinking about arch support, stability, and durability.
Just like a memory foam pillow or mattress provides a cushioned surface for back, neck, or shoulder pain, shoes with memory foam midsoles are designed to reduce the pressure on the ball of the foot.
This pressure is normal, and we experience it even when walking, however, the intensity of this pressure is increased when we run, due to the greater impact on the foot when it hits the ground.
For this reason, memory foam can help reduce pressure on the ball of the foot but will also help absorb heel shock thanks to the additional cushioning it provides.
This reduction in pressure also means there’s less chance of the shoes causing rubs and blisters, which can be painful and uncomfortable.
Memory foam midsoles are known for their comfort, and due to the density of the material, they provide a plush footbed that provides great support.
While people with high arches who need supportive running shoes love memory foam, these shoes are also popular among runners who struggle with stability, as memory foam helps balance your weight and can help alleviate foot pain.
Good for foot pain
The shoes are particularly popular among individuals with foot problems like Plantar Fasciitis, as the additional cushioning helps to take away the stress from the plantar ligament.
The cushioning and support provided also reduces the risk of you sustaining an injury or developing an issue such as Plantar Fasciitis.
They’re also widely used by people who are on their feet all day, such as nurses or postal workers, and for this reason, they’re also great for runners, particularly those who cover a significant distance.
What are the disadvantages of memory foam shoes for running?
Due to the high density of memory foam, it tends to retain body heat. This can be seen as a good or a bad thing.
It’s good in winter when you want to keep your feet warm, but it also means that the running shoes are heavier and less breathable, which could make your feet sweat more and therefore make the shoes less comfortable.
That’s not the worse bit either, as this accumulation of sweat tends to give off a foul odor, which means your running shoes might smell pretty unpleasant. That’s why you should always air them out after your run to try and combat this issue.
Memory foam is also associated with an unpleasant scent caused by something called ‘off-gassing’, which is an odor released by new memory foam. Experts advise airing the shoes out before wearing them to avoid this.
Like most synthetic materials, memory foam won’t last forever. Over time, the material loses elasticity and will struggle to retain its original shape.
This deterioration means you’ll lose all of the benefits mentioned above, like cushioning, stability, and support, which will make you more susceptible to injury and foot pain while running.
Are memory foam running shoes for me?
If you’re somebody who is susceptible to foot pain, or you need extra stability in your running shoes, memory foam could be ideal. They’re also good if you want to cushion the impact on the balls of your feet and your knees, as memory foam will help absorb shock.
If you’re looking for a shoe that provides plenty of cushioning and support, memory foam is great, especially if comfort is your priority. There’s no doubt that memory foam running shoes are the most comfortable.
On the other hand, if you sweat a lot, and you want something breathable and lightweight, avoid memory foam, as the dense quality of this material means it retains heat and won’t wick moisture away easily.
Memory foam may also be less durable, so if you run a lot, you may find that these shoes won’t last you too long.
Our feet are all different, and we all have different things we look for in running shoes. If you have a high arch, you’ll want plenty of cushioning, whereas if you have flat feet you’ll want support and stability to stop your feet from rolling when you run.
Some people love the plush feel of memory foam shoes, whereas others find that they’re overbearing and weigh them down.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to get a professional running shoe fit before you buy a pair of memory foam shoes, to see which type of arch support you need and whether you need more cushioning, stability, or a combination of the two.
Memory foam shoes have a lot of benefits: they provide stability, reduce the amount of pressure on your feet, absorb shock, and best of all provide long-lasting comfort, especially for those who experience foot pain.
On the other hand, memory foam shoes also have some drawbacks: they can feel heavy and sweaty, they can build up an odor, and they’re not very durable.
However, for the vast majority of people, memory foam shoes’ benefits outweigh the negatives, especially when it comes to running, where comfort and support are usually your biggest concerns.