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Do carbon-plated shoes cause more injuries?

MAR 10, 2023

Minute 1: Could Super Shoes be a runner’s kryptonite?

Over the past few years, carbon-plated shoes have exploded onto the running scene, lowering times and increasing credit card balances. Whether you love or hate them, it's hard to deny that they’ve played a role in some remarkable athletic feats, like Eliud Kipchoge’s sub 2-hour marathon in 2019. They’ve earned the nickname of “Super Shoes,” but do the advantages they bring come at a cost? Some researchers think so, and you can learn why in: “Can carbon-plated running shoes cause injury?” Super shoes change the way our feet work when we run, and researchers now worry that those changes can produce injuries over time. Ankle sprains are more common due to the high stack height of the shoe, and a reduced ankle range of motion can lead to an underuse injury. The data is still early and inconclusive, but the evidence is building, like in this recent study from Sports Medicine: “Bone Stress Injuries in Runners Using Carbon Fiber Plate Footwear.” It’s not just bulky super shoes, either. Coaches and athletes noticed increased rates of things like achilles heel inflammation after running in carbon-plated track spikes: “Do the new super spikes increase your risk of injury?” As a result, some athletes have found success by limiting their use of super shoes to competition only, opting to train in more traditional footwear. If you’ve adopted carbon-plated shoes yourself, be sure to pay attention to signs of injury as you rack up the miles.

Minute 2: Get more fun out of your run

If you’re going to run, you might as well have fun. In a world of fitness trackers, Strava flexes, and FKTs, it’s important to remember that exercise isn’t all about the numbers. A lot of us started running to feel better, and obsessing over pace with a self-criticizing mindset probably isn’t the best way to get there. That’s why we found this perspective in Trail Runner to be refreshing: “How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Run.” Alex Kurt was obsessed with hitting his goals. He’d run around a trail head for several minutes just to avoid a “x.99 miles completed” post and end on an even number. Running was impeding his social and professional obligations, but he finally hit a breaking point after moving to Santa Barbara. There are mountains, trails, and hills galore; the perfect combo of beautiful scenery and challenging terrain to make him give up on unrealistic standards he had set, and instead, focus on the incredible views around him. Suddenly, he stopped to smell the roses, enjoying running for its own sake, and mixing things up with games like this: “Play ‘Run Until’ to Stay Motivated During Your Workout.” If you remember pre-iPhone long road trips, bored out of your mind, “I Spy” probably preserved your sanity more than once. Well, “Run Until” is the runner’s version of that classic pastime. All you have to do is choose a common phenomenon and run until you spot it – a car being towed, a person holding an iced drink, someone wearing a yellow shirt, etc. You may be surprised at how the miles fly by when your sights are set on something other than your pace.

Minute 3: Building a post-workout recovery routine

Just as there’s no sense installing smoke alarms once your house is on fire, runners shouldn’t wait until they’re injured to focus on recovery. To help prevent rather than patch up an injury, check out: “The Best 10 After Running Stretches.” When you exercise, your muscles become shortened and tight. Stretching can release that tension, speeding recovery and building your flexibility at the same time. The good news is, it doesn’t take long to see benefits, and as little as 5 to 10 minutes of stretching can make a difference. Some popular options are the quad, calf, hip flexor, and hamstring stretches, since they’ll hit almost every major muscle in your lower body. Stretching is just one option for post run recovery work, and lots of runners have found success using a foam roller as well. So “Do These 3 Foam Roller Exercises After Every Run.” The thoracic spine extension will help you maintain proper posture, even after your back is tired out from your run. Then, the IT band and quad rolls will release tension in 2 of the most heavily used muscles among runners. For more help in recovery, consider using one of: “The 12 Best Massage Guns of 2023, Tested and Reviewed.”

Minute 4: Shoe Review: Hoka Clifton 9 ($145)

Before we dive into Brian Metzler’s review of the new Hoka Clifton 9, we wanted to fess up to a mistake here at HQ. We do some things pretty well, but we have really whiffed on reminding our readers just how deep Brian’s collection of shoe reviews runs. He has now analyzed more than 20 featured shoes on our website and there is something for every runner. Whether you are looking for a super fast (and expensive) carbon-plated screamer, or a versatile everyday trainer to fit your budget, Brian has a recommendation. He covers big name brands along with emerging companies like Atreyu, Innov8 and Craft. Trails, roads, tracks – yeah, he’s got a shoe for that. You can find all of his reviews here. As for today’s featured shoe (the Hoka Clifton 9), we are happy to see an old favorite get refreshed. The highlights are below and you can check out Brian’s full review of the Clifton on our website.

When it comes to the evolution of modern running shoes, the Hoka Clifton should be part of any conversation that discusses how we got to where we are today. Not only did the original Clifton provide runners with an impossibly lightweight, maximally-cushioned daily trainer when it launched in 2014, but it was also a true game-changer that put Hoka on the map among mainstream runners. Perhaps more strongly worded, its success might have also saved Hoka from becoming defunct before it ever gained traction on a wider scale. The brand had gained notoriety from its original Mafete and Bondi models after launching in 2011, but it was the Clifton that really legitimized Hoka’s max-cushion approach for the masses.

The original Clifton was a mildly energetic, softly-cushioned shoe that helped change the impression of what a daily training shoe could feel like, but it was also briefly a marathon racing shoe for some runners in the pre-carbon-fiber-plate era. Nearly a decade later, Hoka is now one of the biggest brands in the running industry and the updated Clifton 9 is still a flagship neutral-oriented everyday training shoe that’s ideal for new runners as well as veterans training for half marathons and marathons.

What’s New: With the new Clifton 9, Hoka has revitalized the midsole to make it slightly lighter and also much more responsive. There’s an additional 3mm of midsole foam in this year’s Clifton, but more importantly, the midsole is now made from a lightweight and very responsive compression-molded EVA that gives the shoe a smoother and bouncier feel than in recent years. The Clifton 9 also features a partially-gusseted tongue for the first time and a new Creel Jacquard mesh to help cinch down the fit and protect against debris. A new outsole design provides more durability and control.

Why It’s Great: It’s great because the revamped midsole really enhances the ride. It’s as smooth as it’s ever been and the meta-rocker shape really helps promote forward propulsion. The ride is bouncier and more energetic than ever, and quite frankly, the Clifton needed that. It’s no longer just a race-oriented shoe. Yes, you could run a 5K, 10K or half marathon in it in a pinch – if you aren’t racing all-out for a fast time – but it’s quick and light enough to run up-tempo paces. For the complete rundown on the new Hoka Clifton 9, check out Brian’s full review here. His full collection of shoe reviews is here. #Clifton9Lives

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • At this point, most of us are familiar with the trend of polar plunges and ice baths for their purported health benefits. Some studies show that: “Cold-water immersion triggers a ’shock response’ that stresses the cardiovascular system and elevates the heart rate – a chief goal of high-intensity heart-healthy exercise.” Well, even if you’ve taken a cold shower on a hot day, you’ll know how uncomfortable cold exposure can be, and that’s enough to deter a lot of us from giving it a shot. We’ve got good news, though, because trainer @larsmeidell says researchers have found that as little as 11 minutes per week of cold exposure is enough to see major perks. Check out the details in this clip.

  • If you’ve thought of yourself as a fairly accomplished endurance athlete, only to be bested in a short distance event, don’t feel bad. None other than Mo Farah recently experienced an upset loss at his child’s school event for parents that featured a 100 meter dash: “Sir Mo Farah admits he lost to a dad wearing jeans at a school running race as he 'can't sprint'.” It just goes to show that even if your slow twitch muscles are strong, a lack of fast twitch fibers can leave you looking at the backside of “dad bods” in a sprint.

  • A common mistake runners make is overdoing it in training. Maybe you’re cramming in preparation for an upcoming event, or have simply lost your patience waiting for results. Well, there are some researchers out there who will beg you to slow down. Take a look at “No pain, plenty of gain: why taking it easy can be the key to getting fitter – and happier.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Some races, you’re on top of the world. Others, it feels like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. It’s hard to predict how the race will go until you’re in it, and if things start to go south, it can make your confidence disappear faster than the babysitter’s boyfriend when a car pulls into the driveway. When struggling along a 26.2-mile course, it’s unlikely your family and friends will be able to cheer you up at the moment you need a boost. @mattchoi_6 found help from unexpected sources, however, in a recent marathon. When he was forced into walking after being hit with full body cramps, the other competitors around him offered their support. They shouted words of encouragement, and some onlookers even took up running beside him to help him along. If you’re having a great race, remember to spread that positivity to those around you. If you’re hit with a setback, it’s okay to ask for help. Check out the value of positivity in the video below.


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