This post was written by one of the readers of theicecream.org! Luiz has just finished his masters degree on running-related injuries and he is now a research fellow from the São Paulo Running Injury Group, a Brazilian research group full of smart guys! You can read Luiz’s bio here: http://sprunig.net/en/researchers/luiz-carlos-hespanhol-junior/
Running shoes: is it a dilemma?
Almost every day we are bombarded by advertisements about running shoes by several types of media. We open a magazine and there are beautiful images for a page or two about launching a new running shoe, which usually present a thick sole and a different damping system. The main idea conveyed by these advertisements in many cases is they will prevent running injuries. If this statement was true; why runners are still getting injured in similar proportions over the last 20 years1, 2?
Companies that manufacture and sell these shoes do not seem to be concerned about testing if these shoes really prevent running injuries. There is a lack of prospective studies aimed to verify if the use of these “special” running shoes is associated with the development or the prevention of injuries. A systematic review published in 2009 aimed to verify if running shoes may prevent running-related injuries concluded that the prescription of these shoes to prevent running injuries is not evidence based, as clinical trials have never been performed to answer this interesting question3.
Besides there is no evidence to support the idea conveyed by the companies that “special” running shoes prevent running injuries. Two recent published randomized controlled trials with army personnel conclude that “special” running shoes based on the assessment of the plantar surface shape was not effective in preventing running injuries4, 5.
A study published in Nature in 2010 showed that barefoot runners or runners that use minimalist shoes (shoes with a thin, light and soft sole mainly on the heel) may change their running strike pattern from heel-foot to midfoot or forefoot strike and this reduces the impact transient while running6. These results lead the hypothesis that maybe barefoot running or minimalist running shoes could prevent running injuries because these may change the running strike patterns. A heated discussion on this matter was the theme of reports published this year in running-related magazines such as Runner’s World (issue 27, 2010) and O2 (issue 96, 2010). Now the market is heated in launching several types of minimalist shoes and the question to runners and researchers is: once again are we victims of advertisings on the use of specific shoes to prevent running injuries, or will we raise awareness to conduct scientific studies to elucidate this matter? Are running shoes or running strike patterns are associated with development of running injuries? I would like to know the ICECReamers opinion about this matter.
1. Lopes AD, et al. Musculoskeletal pain is prevalent among recreational runners who are about to compete: an observational study of 1049 runners. J Physiother. 2011;57(3):179-82.
2. Walter SD, et al. The Ontario cohort study of running-related injuries. Arch Intern Med. 1989;149(11):2561-4.
3. Richards CE, et al. Is your prescription of distance running shoes evidence-based? Br J Sports Med. 2009;43(3):159-62.
4. Knapik JJ, et al. Effect on injuries of assigning shoes based on foot shape in air force basic training. Am J Prev Med. 2010;38(1 Suppl):S197-211.
5. Knapik JJ, et al. Injury reduction effectiveness of selecting running shoes based on plantar shape. J Strength Cond Res. 2009;23(3):685-97.
6. Lieberman DE et al. Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners. Nature. 2010;463(7280):531-5.
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