Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
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©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2005) 04, 617 - 617

Letter to editor
Do Running Shoes Protect all Runners?
Benjamin E.J. Spurgeon 
Author Information
8 Astoria Crescent, Hull, HU8 9BJ, United Kingdom,

Benjamin E.J. Spurgeon
✉ 8 Astoria Crescent, Hull, HU8 9BJ, United Kingdom.
Email: bspurgeon99@hotmail.com
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Published (online): 01-12-2005
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Dear Editor-in-Chief

Running is a prevalent physical activity in today’s health-conscious society. Over the course of a 1-mile run an individual will make approximately 1600 footstrikes. At the time of contact between foot and ground, impact forces and pronation place large stresses on the structures of the lower extremity. Exposure to repeated impact loading is linked to the development of runners’ injuries, including joint degeneration and osteoarthritis (Dekel and Weissman, 1978). Pronation increases the stress in joints, muscles and tendons and is also connected to runners’ injuries (James et al., 1978; Denoth, 1986; Stacoff et al., 1988). To prevent injury, running shoes are designed to reduce both impact forces and pronation. However, these innovations in shoe design might not benefit all runners.

There are two main groups of runners: rearfoot strikers and midfoot strikers. Rearfoot strikers make initial ground contact with their heel, whereas midfoot strikers make initial ground contact with the mid-region of their foot. Eighty percent of runners are rearfoot strikers with the remainder being midfoot strikers (Kerr et al., 1983). So far, running shoe research has been focused only on rearfoot strikers. Thus, there is a good understanding of the shoe design requirements for these runners. For example, research has shown that the hardness and geometry of shoe-soles can be modified to reduce impact forces and pronation in rearfoot strikers (Luethi and Stacoff, 1987; Nigg and Morlock, 1987).

Conversely, midfoot strikers have received no attention from running shoe research. This suggests that there is little understanding of the available techniques to reduce impact forces and pronation in these runners. Indeed, research has shown more pronation in midfoot strikers than in rearfoot strikers for the same shoe (De Wit et al., 1995). Hence, midfoot strikers might be running in poorly designed shoes which predispose them to injury.

Do running shoes protect all runners? Unfortunately, this question can not be answered conclusively. The literature suggests that rearfoot strikers are better protected than midfoot strikers. Future research should resolve this issue and develop a better understanding of the shoe design requirements for midfoot strikers.

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Journal of Sports Science and Medicine Benjamin E.J. Spurgeon
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E-mail: bspurgeon99@hotmail.com
 
REFERENCES
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine Dekel S., Weissman S.L. (1978) Joint changes after overuse and peak overloading of rabbit knees in vivo. Acta Orthopaedica Scandinavica 49, 519-528.
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine Denoth J., Nigg B.M. (1986) Biomechanics of running shoes. Load on the human locomotor system and modelling. Champaign IL. Human Kinetics.
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine De Wit B., De Clercq D., Lenoir M. (1995) The effect of varying midsole hardness on impact forces and foot motion during foot contact in running. Journal of Applied Biomechanics 11, 395-406.
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine James S.L., Bates B.T., Osternig L.R. (1978) Injuries to runners. The American Journal of Sports Medicine 6, 40-50.
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine Kerr B.A., Beauchamp L., Fisher V., Neil R., Nigg B.M., Kerr B.A., Calgary AB (1983) Biomechanical aspects of sports shoes and playing surfaces. Footstrike patterns in distance running. University Printing Calgary.
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine Luethi S.M., Stacoff A., Van Gheluwe B., Atha J. (1987) Current research in sports biomechanics. The influence of the shoe on foot mechanics in running. Basel. Krager.
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine Nigg B.M., Morlock M. (1987) The influence of lateral heel flare of running shoes on pronation and impact forces. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 19, 294-302.
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine Stacoff A., Denoth J., Kaelin X., Stuessi E. (1988) Running injuries and shoe construction: some possible relationships. International Journal of Sport Biomechanics 4, 342-357.
 
 
 
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