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Saying Shoes for Foot Types Cause Injury Is Bunk

I recently read an article on Runner’s World about how Michael Ryan (a PH.D. in I believe Sports Medicine) stated “…our current approach of prescribing in-shoe pronation control systems on the basis of foot type is overly simplistic and potentially injurious”. But in reviewing his study I’ve found many issues with how it was conducted.

So lets start with the story, Ryan did a research study with Nike as a sponsor on women half-marathoners during a 13-week training period. They had each women wear a random pair of Nike’s specialized running shoe (ones for flat feet, modest arches, and normal arches) for the entire 13 week study. They then recorded injuries over the course of that time to find who had the lower injury rate. There hypothesis was that “who had randomly received the correct shoes would have a lower injury rate than those who randomly received not-the-right shoes.” The full abstract can be read from Britsh Journal of Sports Medicine

Their results showed that each group received a rather high level of injuries and the ones who received the correct shoes didn’t do any better than the ones who got the wrong shoe for their foot type.

First off after looking over this study the same size is just way too small. Only 81 women were studied. No men where looked at and a study size of that amount is just too small.

Secondly, they only used Nike shoes - thus how do we know if the issue was not just Nike. I personally will get injured if I were Nike shoes to run in even when I select the right shoe for my foot type. No other shoe brands were studied thus further makes this research skewed.

Lastly, where is the control group? Were is the study of the 81 women who wore the “right” shoe for their foot. I’m willing to bet that they don’t have as many injuries. From personal experience as a coach and distance runner for over 18 years I have seen many runners with the wrong shoe have major injury problems and those with the right shoe never have an injury all season.

I think to be fair before we call off prescribing shoes based on foot type and running gate we should do a more accurate study with a more wide range of shoe brands and a much larger sample size. But I do agree there probably could be develop much better shoes and methods for detecting which type of shoe is right for you.

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