There’s an enormous debate in the running world about how your feet should hit the ground. For a long time conventional wisdom said heel first, but in the last few years, there’s been a push towards a more natural forefoot-first style.
One way to train your feet to hit forefoot first is to go barefoot or wear very thin shoes, but that’s not always an option for everyone. ShoeCue has a creative way to change your biomechanics without changing your shoes!
ShoeCue is an insole that fits into just about any running shoe. From the toe to the midfoot, it looks like any other shoe insole, but the heel has a raised, hard plastic pad with little nubs. This pad is there to gently remind you to step lightly and forefoot-first; if you do, you won’t really feel the nubs, but slam your heel down into the ground and you’ll definitely notice. The rest of the insole is thin and not really notable, though I would assume if you normally wear a orthotic you might notice (I often remove insoles entirely, so the thinness was a benefit for me). I tested the ShoeCue on a few runs this week, and I’ll admit, I went from skeptical to very impressed.
Here’s how ShoeCue describes the soles:
- INJURY PREVENTION: The ShoeCue promotes bio mechanics that are scientifically backed to reduce impact when running and therefore avoid running injuries!
- RUN FASTER: ShoeCue will help you improve your running technique to develop a more efficient stride, therefore you will run faster!
- BAREFOOT RUNNING: Running barefoot allows your body to feel the ground on each step, causing you to land softer and run more efficiently. ShoeCue’s patented textured heel plate brings this same effect to your everyday shoe.
- ATHLETIC TRAINING: ShoeCue is great for Agility Training, Weightlifting, Jogging, Walking, Crossfit Lifting and any other activity.
- IMMEDIATE RESPONSE: CONNECT + ADJUST + IMPROVE: Return physical sensation to your feet! ShoeCue helps you with real-time mechanic adjustments to improve your running.
I was skeptical for two reasons. One, I’m hyper sensitive to anything that’s not a simple, neutral shoe. I’ve had a few knee surgeries, so I can run without pain but only if I let my knee guide me, and my knee is very clear that anything trying to tell my feet what to do is not acceptable. Second, I’ve spent a great deal of time working on my forefoot strike already, and I didn’t know how much the ShoeCue would really help, especially in minimal-ish shoes. Also, “barefoot running”/”barefoot style” has become a gimmicky marketing phrase in addition to a description of a running style. So I had some trepidation when I set out on my first run.
Happily, the ShoeCue does not do anything to physically alter your gait; it’s simply a passive reminder if your form gets sloppy and your heel hits the ground because you’ll feel the nubs of the plate. I tested them in two different shoes-Brooks Pureflow 5s and Brooks Neuros. The Pureflows are on the edge of minimal/non-minimal, and the Neuros have a low heel to toe drop but look and feel like regular shoes. I found that the ShoeCue was more comfortable and useful in the Neuros, but some of that is probably because the Neuros are a touch more cushy as a running shoe to begin with, so anything that encourages a softer landing is just going to make the shoe feel even smoother. ShoeCue fit both shoes just fine, and I ran both with and without socks and found that while I could feel the plastic plate, it didn’t hurt or cause discomfort. If you’re very concerned about comfort, thicker socks will dull the plate while you adjust to the idea.
In addition, while it’s not exactly fun, you can walk with the ShoeCues in as well. These aren’t really designed for walking, but I am a firm believer that you should never set out to run in something you can’t also walk in because things happen. I’ve had more runs than I care to admit where I limped home with skinned knees because the sidewalk attacked me, or I had to stop and walk because I pushed it way too hard in the heat. Walking and running biomechanics are very different, and even barefoot there’s more heel strike while walking, so while the ShoeCue can feel a little uncomfortable at first, you can walk in it safely.
ShoeCue solves a major objection people often have to forefoot/midfoot striking in running. Minimal-specific shoes are expensive, and it can sometimes be a tough adjustment on your calves and feet to shift your biomechanics. At $34.99, ShoeCue isn’t a big investment and lets you use your existing shoes. In addition, if adjusting your gait is hard on your body, you can ease into them without having to change your shoes or cut way back on your miles; either run normally and deal with the plate or stop and slip them out of your shoe and keep going. They are comfortable to wear, and the plate serves as a subtle “hey, watch how you’re running”. You can also pop these into multiple shoes, so if you already have a fleet of shoes you like and you want to try forefoot running, you don’t have to spend a fortune.
(For those who are interested in more of the biomechanics of foot strikes, this article at Breaking Muscle does a great job of explaining what you’re aiming for, whether it’s with your forefoot, midfoot, or even <gasp> heel!)
ShoeCue is available directly from the manufacturer and from other retailers including Amazon [affiliate link].
Source: Manufacturer provided review sample
What I Liked: Inexpensive way to adjust your running biomechanics; textured plate gives feedback without being painful; fits in most shoes easily
What Needs Improvement: Nothing, but please take it slowly when starting for the sake of your calves and ankles