A too comfortable running shoe increases the risk of injuries
Every runner more knows that maximal running shoes with a highly cushioned midsole in both the rearfoot and forefoot offer more comfort than standard shoes. But using these more comfortable shoes comes with a price. They deteriorate running technique, because of which the risk of injuries may increase, write sports scientists at Oregon State University in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine.
The researchers let 15 female runners run a distance of 5 kilometers twice. On one occasion the women walked that distance with more standard shoes [New Balance], the other time the women wore extra-comfortable shoes with an enhanced midsole [Hoka One]. This extra thick sole absorbs the impact of the foot landing on the ground, making running more comfortable.
After walking the 5 kilometers, the researchers observed the walking technique of the women. They looked especially at the effect of the extra-comfortable Hoka One shoes on the way the runners landed their heels on the ground. The greater the landing shock, the greater the chance that runners will get injuries.
Of course, shoes with thickened soles absorb this shock more effectively than other shoes. However, this protective effect may disappear if the increased running comfort worsens the running technique.
Wearing maximal running shoes increased both the loading rate and the impact peak. The extra-comfortable shoes made the running technique sloppier, which caused the feet hit the ground more abruptly and with a larger impact.
"Runners who were classified as heel-strikers exhibited increased impact forces and loading rate when running in a maximal shoe compared with a traditional neutral shoe", summarize the researchers.
"Because increases in these variables have been associated with an increased risk of running-related injuries, runners who are new to running in a maximal shoe may be at an increased risk of injury. Therefore, runners should consider this potential increased risk for injury when switching from a neutral shoe to a maximal shoe."
"However, further work is necessary to better understand the longer term impact of this type of footwear."
Orthop J Sports Med. 2018 Jun 7;6(6):2325967118775720.
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