A study from the University of Newcastle, New South Wales has analysed 60 years of sports medicine research and found nothing to prove that “high technology” shoes had any special benefit for runners.
Dr Craig Richards, who led the research at the Australian university said that some designs may actually make injury more likely.
“The shoes are specially designed to make you land on your heel and that’s very artificial. That may impair balance and make you prone to ankle strain.”
He was inspired to conduct the research after sustaining injuries while out jogging. His team looked at running shoes with “elevated cushioned heels” and “anti-pronation systems” designed to prevent the foot rolling inwards.
“Since the 1980s, distance running shoes with thick, heavily cushioned heels and features to control how much the heel rolls in, have been consistently recommended to runners who want to avoid injury,” Dr Richards said.
“We did not identify a single study that has attempted to measure the effect of this shoe type on either injury rates or performance.
“This means there is no scientific evidence that [hi-tech] shoes provide any benefit to distance runners.”
Dr Richards said Dutch researchers had found between 37 and 56 per cent of recreational runners become injured at least once each year, mainly hurting their legs and feet.
Shoes with pronation control to prevent the ankle from rolling and an elevated cushioned heel – known as PCECH shoes – are often recommended to prevent these kinds of injuries. But there was no scientific proof that these shoes could protect the feet, he said.
“A collective psyche has developed around these shoes.
“It’s so ingrained now that to even suggest that there’s no evidence that they work gets a very rude reaction from people.”
Dr Richards’ findings are published in the latest edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
He said more research should be conducted into the shoes.
“Not only can we no longer recommend a PCECH shoe, but the lack of research in this area means that we cannot currently make any evidence-based shoe recommendations to runners.
“To resolve this uncertainty, running shoes need to be tested like any other medical treatment, in carefully controlled clinical trials.”
Dr Richards said his team would launch a study on the benefits, if any, of such shoes later this year.
Source: Daily Telegraph