Can Shoes Prevent Injuries – Myth vs Fact

by Hamid L. Sadri, DC, CCSP, ICSSD, CSCS, CKTP, CES, PES

can running shoes make a differenceA common question we are asked on a daily basis from our athletes is: “What type of shoe should I wear to avoid injuries?” and ” Can shoes prevent injuries” In recent years, shoe manufacturing companies have gone to great lengths to produce highly engineered shoes in order to help improve performance based on the type of sport and more commonly, for the purpose of avoiding sport related injuries, more specifically those injuries related to running.The shoe types vary in design from “full stability” to “neutral”, some are said to be specific for over-pronators, some for heel-strikers, others for forefoot runners, supinators, high arches, flat feet and on and on.In turn, many running stores have gone to great lengths to try and determine running styles and foot-strike patterns so as to “fit the athlete with the proper shoe that matches their gait pattern”.As a result, many injured athletes have gone to great lengths, spending great deal of time and money trying to find a shoe type that would help them avoid injuries as they relate to shoes.

On the surface, it may make sense to think that if, for example, you are a so-called over-pronator that you should be wearing a shoe type referred to as a “stability” type shoe.The idea being that the shoe will limit the amount of pronation and therefore help reduce the resulting injuries commonly caused by this condition.This has been an advice that many professionals, including ourselves, have been giving to athletes and patients when faced with the question.

Surprisingly, the most recent studies say otherwise!!

Specifically, there were two recent studies that were published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine and the British Journal of Sports Medicine that found absolutely no correlation between shoe types and injury reduction/avoidance.The study published in the American Journal of Sport Medicine (ajs.sagepub.com – “Injury Reduction Effectiveness of Assigning Running Shoes Based on Plantar Shape in Marine Corps Basic Training”) involved thousands of military recruits who were divided into various groups.Some were fitted with the “proper shoe” type, while others were given shoes at random without any relation of foot strike or gait pattern to their shoes.At the end of the research period the reported results indicated that there were no relations between fit and injury prevention!In the British Journal of Sports Medicine (bjsm.bmj.com – “The Effect of Three Different Levels of Footwear Stability on Pain Outcomes in Women Runners”) a similar research was done involving 80 female runners who completed a 13 week running trial. Interestingly, in this study the majority of those who reported missing days due to injuries or pain were those who were “fitted” to their shoes!

The final recommendations based upon these studies were that shoe fitting has no bearing on injury prevention as it relates to running.It is the basic rule that the athlete must follow: If it hurts, it is not right for you.

Dr. Sadri has been practicing in Decatur, GA for 26 years and specializes in athletic injuries and rehab. The clinic, 1st Choice Sports Rehab Center, was named “The Best Sports Injury Center in the Southeast” by Competitor Magazine. To subscribe to our newsletter click here. To schedule an evaluation, call 404-377-0011.

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