Monday, October 3, 2016

ShoeCue: Inserts Review

I love innovation especially when the concept is simple yet powerful. I was on Facebook one day and came across this advertisement called ShoeCue. I have reviewed several inserts in the past so I thought this is no different. But somehow my curiosity took over, so I visited their website to know more about the product. One thing that caught my attention was their claim that their inserts can improve running form…who doesn’t want that? Though I’ve been running for a while now, I know that my running forms (dynamics) still need a lot of improvement, one of those is how I land my feet. Studies suggest that landing on the heel of the foot creates a tremendous impact on the body especially on the joints versus landing on the midfoot or forefoot. It’s ineffective and can cause some serious injuries. I’m a bit of a heel striker and the ShoeCue claims that it can help correct that. Really?…now they got my attention.

    Great for everyday use
    Textured heel area that mimics running on barefoot
    Textured, thermoplastic heel-plate that reconnects your feet to the ground

Benefits and Functionality
If you’ve been doing a lot of running, you know how important inserts are (not unless you’re a barefoot runner). Whether it’s the one that came with the shoe or if you have specialized inserts you know that simple piece of foam does a lot of things. It’s another layer of protection that shield and support our feet from the impact of landing. We are all born to run but somehow our running forms are being altered due to number of reasons, one of that is our running shoes. I’m not saying to ditch your shoes or go barefoot, shoes are essential gear that protects our feet from injury and elements on the road. The only disbenefit is that it prohibits the feet from the natural sensation of being in contact with the ground. That being said, the sensation or signal on our feet doesn’t go to our brain. This is where the ShoeCue comes in.

ShoeCue is like most regular inserts that can accommodate whatever type of foot you may have (flat, medium or high arch). Their design is very subtle unlike some inserts that have high arch that could push your feet outward and your balance out of alignment. I did some comparisons and measurements in the very beginning to see how it differs from my regular inserts.

As you can see, that it doesn’t have arch support and it lays perfectly flat. This doesn’t really make any difference since the real support is provided by the shoe not the insert.

Regarding if it’s true to the size, you’ll notice that they’re almost identical in length.

As you can see on the back side of the insert that it has the “guided lines” on where to trim to make it exactly the same size of your existing insert. This was how much I trimmed since they sent me 10 ½ and my insert is size 10.

Comparing the top end of the ShoeCue vs. my regular insert, their thickness is almost identical.
Just out of curiosity, I took my caliper out and it turns out that the ShoeCue is actually a hair thicker than my insert by 0.08mm (5.57mm – 5.49mm). Does it makes any difference? Nah.

I zoomed in on the most important part, you can see the almost “Truncated Dome” located on the heel area. This is the heart of the insole.

So how does this function? You need to replace your existing insole with this one and when you start running, it will then send a signal or sensation to your brain telling you to stop landing on your heel. It teaches you to correct your running dynamics by forcing you to land on the midfoot or forefoot area. It’s like having an invisible coach by your side except it doesn’t yell.

Does it hurt when you land on those truncated dome? Absolutely not! But you’ll definitely feel its presence every time you land on it. “The goal of the Cue is to simply increase your bodies positional awareness and subtly encourage better biomechanics over time”.

Is the concept behind this and the toe shoes the same? Yes, but you’ll be able to use your favorite shoes rather than being stuck with just one pair of toe shoes. I have those shoes in the past and it really makes you conscious on how you land. Land on your heels and you’ll regret it. The other benefit is the cost which is only a mere fraction compared to buying a toe shoes.

Here’s a quick link for some of the FAQ.

Disclaimer: Below are my tests and suggestions which may differ from what the company recommends.

To avoid any bias and inconsistency during my tests, I’ve been using the same shoes (Hoka Clifton 3) with these inserts. I’ve tested the ShoeCue many times and here are some of the things that I would like to share.

1. On your initial test, I would recommend that you try this on a track and field or some grassy area so that your feet won’t get shock from the sudden change.
2. Try to do each ¼ lap on a slower but decent pace so your feet will be able to recognize the change on how you land.
3. Let’s get this one out of the way, your calves will definitely hurt after the run. But it’s a good hurt and this is an indication that it works.
4. Use thin socks instead of those maximum cushion socks, this way you’ll feel the bumps better.
5. If you decide to do the tests on the road, use the unpaved portion of the shoulder (if there’s any). Dirt is more forgiving than pavement.
6. Do short runs first and easily progress to longer runs once you get comfortable and accustomed with your new running form.
7. Switch to a “no ShoeCue shoes” once in a while. This will help you react naturally, it’s all about adaptation.
8. Be Patient, give yourself some time adapting to this change. Remember change doesn’t happen overnight.

My Verdict
I’ve reviewed quite a few inserts in the past and I have to say that this is my favorite and very useful in my running. I’m still using my ShoeCue for the most part of my trainings and working hard to improve my form before my next marathon this December. Frankly speaking, I can already see some improvements. There is more springiness on my stride and it feels that I’m exerting less energy. 26.2 miles is a long journey and I’ll take every ounce of energy I can save in order to BQ.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with the ShoeCue, it does what they claimed it will do. Their selling it for a decent and reasonable price of $29.99 on their website. They’ll even ship it for free and a 30-day risk free trial for your convenience. They will even include a drawstring bag upon your order which I found very useful when traveling to my races.

Here’s a short video from the man behind this product. Give it a try, you got nothing to lose but so much to gain.

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