Running Shoes: Hazardous to Your Joints?
Study Shows Running Shoes Exert More Stress on Knees and Hips Than Running Barefoot
WebMD News Archive
Running Shoes Study: Other Opinions continued...
"She showed there was an increase in joint forces, but that's it," says
Williams, a podiatrist in Valparaiso, Ind., and a runner. There was no link
shown between running shoes and running injuries, nor with development of
arthritis -- both beyond the scope of the study.
The bulk of research studies have found that runners don't have a higher
incidence of knee osteoarthritis than the general population, Williams tells
In one study, for instance, German researchers evaluated 20 former elite
marathon runners and compared them to the general population, looking for
arthritis. They found that knee osteoarthritis was rare in the former
marathoners, publishing the result in the journal Orthopade.
Ideally, Kerrigan's team should have looked at many different shoe types,
says Joseph Hamill, PhD, professor of kinesiology and director of the
Biomechanics Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who has
researched the biomechanics of running shoes. "For example, a racing flat has
very little in the way of cushioning and is almost like running barefoot,"
Running Shoes Study: Industry Input
In an email response, Tiffany Herman, a spokeswoman for Brooks Sports, which
makes running shoes, says: ''We value the results of this study and are in
active research and development on many unique performance running footwear
solutions at Brooks."
''This includes styles that enhance the natural motion of the foot and body
while offering protection from weather conditions, road debris, and individual
Running Shoes: What to Buy?
So what's a runner to wear -- or not wear? "Nobody should take the message
that being barefoot is better than wearing any type of shoe whatsoever," says
Williams of the new study.
Kerrigan, too, says her research isn't a vote for the barefoot running trend
-- nor for giving up running.
"If you are happy with your running shoes, you don't necessarily have to
change them," Williams says. But if you have an injury, he suggests consulting
a sports podiatrist and getting advice about the best shoe features for
''I would suggest runners try a number of different types of shoes until
they find one that they like," Hamill says. "Also, buy two or three pairs of
shoes and rotate them each day."