Aussie study challenges claims for hi-tech running shoes

March 12, 2009
People are seen jogging in central France. Australian researchers have admitted they had found no scientific proof that hi-tech running shoes improve athletic performance or limit injury. Newcastle University physiologist Craig Richards said the myth of the modern running shoe had exploded into a vast industry since the 1970s but a study found there was no scientific proof they worked.

Australian researchers have admitted they had found no scientific proof that hi-tech running shoes improve athletic performance or limit injury.

Newcastle University physiologist Craig Richards said the myth of the modern running shoe had exploded into a vast industry since the 1970s but a study of literature since 1950 found there was no scientific proof they worked.

"A collective psyche has developed around these shoes," Richards, the lead researcher, told AFP.

"It's so ingrained now that to even suggest that there's no evidence that they work gets a very rude reaction from people.

"But we searched all the sports medicine literature we could find looking for a carefully controlled trial measuring whether or not modern hi-tech decrease rates, improve performance or decrease the risk of osteoarthritis later in life.

"We basically couldn't find anything," he said.

While the shoes were subject to extensive biomechanical testing, Richards said his study -- published in the current edition of the -- showed they had never been examined in a real-world environment.

"You can't determine whether or not a shoe changes your injury rates in a laboratory," he said.

The shoes typically feature elevated cushioned heels intended to absorb impact, protect the Achilles tendon and stop the foot from rolling, but Richards said the claims had never been put to the street test.

Sports medicine, not advertising, that was to blame for the myth, he said.

"The manufacturers don't actually promote them as injury , that's not where the message comes from. It's actually coming from health professionals," said Richards.

Richards said his team would launch a study on the benefits, if any, of such shoes later this year.

(c) 2009 AFP

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willvis
not rated yet Jul 18, 2009
I have been walking and running barefoot for 10 weeks, after hearing Christopher McDougall interviewed on the radio, then reading his book, "Born To Run", then studying up as best I could online and at the library. I have now run and walked all over Nashville, Denver and London (UK), without once cutting my foot or getting hurt at all. On the contrary, my achilles tendon, which had been sore for about 15 years, gets better each day. My knees, hips and back feel better than ever. I have been a runner for 37 years, and had just about given it up. My last pair of running shoes cost me about $150, and my achilles tendon and knee pain only got worse wearing them. The only people who seem to question going barefoot are people who have not tried it enough times for your foot to get in shape---feet are complex things, with hundreds of bones, muscles and tendons and millions of nerve endings. Take a barefoot walk around the block. Give it a shot.

I firmly believe that high tech trainers are much more about marketing than they are about the health of the people who wear them. Look at Nike's policy of taking perfectly good shoes off the market as soon as they catch on. How many runners loved the original Nike Pegasus? Can you buy them now? Maybe on ebay!

Barefooting has made my life better and given me a second chance at running healthy.

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