Supportive shoes a confusing term, runner attitude study finds

February 12, 2016, University of Manchester

New running shoes to burn off Christmas excess are a popular purchase in the New Year, but the terms associated with supportive footwear and alternative styles of running can be confusing, a new study has found.

In what they believe is a first of its kind study, University of Manchester psychologists conducted in-depth interviews with eight recreational runners to find out their attitudes to barefoot and minimalist (minimalist shoes are designed to mimic running barefoot).

They found that there were strong negative reactions to barefoot running, with the interviewees concerned about risks regarding support and injury, without being clear what these might be.

Trusted sources of information about potential risks included shops which provided gait analysis, blogs and also anecdotal evidence from fellow runners. Health professionals and scientific research tended to be disregarded.

Most runners buy supportive trainers – but don't have a common or clear definition of what they are buying, leading to confusion even amongst the more experienced featured in the study.

Peter Walton carried out the study. He said: "When you buy supportive trainers is what you're buying different to everyone else? Ultimately if there is no clear definition, then people don't know that their shoes are meeting their expectations.

"Conversely, barefoot running has been used by humans for hundreds of thousands of years, yet running shoes as we know them were only introduced in 1972. Attitudes to barefoot running also centre around negative perceptions of the loose term 'support', yet without a foundation in evidence."

With around 25% of all injured at any one time the researchers believe that the findings are important to help people make the best choices and have the best access to information.

Peter added: "People often have inconsistent ideas about barefoot and minimalist running, which are often formed by potentially biased sources and which may lead people to make poor decisions about barefoot and minimalist running. It is important to provide high-quality information to enable better decisions to be made about barefoot and minimalist running."

The paper, 'What do people think about running barefoot/with minimalist footwear? A Thematic Analysis,' appeared in the British Journal of Health Psychology.

Explore further: Running barefoot may increase injury risk in older, more experienced athletes

More information: Peter D. Walton et al. What do people think about running barefoot/with minimalist footwear? A thematic analysis, British Journal of Health Psychology (2016). DOI: 10.1111/bjhp.12180

Related Stories

Running barefoot may increase injury risk in older, more experienced athletes

March 24, 2015
In recent years there has been an explosion in barefoot running, as well as the purchase and use of "minimalist" running shoes that more closely resemble barefoot running by encouraging the balls of the feet, between the ...

Give barefoot running the boot?

May 31, 2013
Barefoot running has been making headlines ever since 1960, when a shoeless Abebe Bikila set a new world-record marathon time at the Rome Olympics. Even manufacturers have muscled in on the trend over the years, with most ...

Study looks at muscle adaptation of transition to minimalist running

May 2, 2013
For tens of thousands of years, humans ran on bare feet. Then we developed an assortment of specialized shoes, including – particularly since the 1960s – a seemingly limitless variety of running shoes. Despite the perceived ...

Whoa there! A quick switch to 'barefoot' shoes can be bad to the bone

March 6, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—For the growing number of runners who are considering trying "barefoot" five-finger running shoes, researchers at BYU have a message for you: Take it slow!

Cushioned heel running shoes may alter adolescent biomechanics, performance

March 19, 2013
Many of today's running shoes feature a heavy cushioned heel. New research presented today at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) found that these shoes may alter an adolescent runner's ...

Study examines link between runners' foot injuries, ill-fitting shoes

October 9, 2012
Loyola University Medical Center researchers are conducting a first-of-its kind study of marathon runners to determine if there is link between foot injuries and ill-fitting shoes.

Recommended for you

1 in 9 U.S. adults over 45 reports memory problems

July 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—If you're middle-aged and you think you're losing your memory, you're not alone, a new U.S. government report shows.

Antioxidant benefits of sleep

July 12, 2018
Understanding sleep has become increasingly important in modern society, where chronic loss of sleep has become rampant and pervasive. As evidence mounts for a correlation between lack of sleep and negative health effects, ...

Footwear habits influence child and adolescent motor skill development

July 11, 2018
New research finds that children and adolescents who spend most of their time barefoot develop motor skills differently from those who habitually wear shoes. Published in Frontiers in Pediatrics, this is the first study to ...

How a Mediterranean diet could reduce osteoporosis

July 11, 2018
Eating a Mediterranean-type diet could reduce bone loss in people with osteoporosis—according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

Extreme heat and reduced cognitive performance in adults in non-air-conditioned buildings

July 10, 2018
Students who lived in dormitories without air conditioning (AC) during a heat wave performed worse on a series of cognitive tests compared with students who lived in air-conditioned dorms, according to new research led by ...

Suppressing negative emotions during health scare may whip up spiral of fear

July 10, 2018
Trying to suppress worries during a health scare, like the recent Zika outbreak, may lead to an ever-intensifying cycle of emotional suppression and fear, according to a team of researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.