March 12, 2009

Aussie Research Defies Claims For Hi-Tech Running Shoes

An Australian research group has disclosed evidence which scientifically disproves assertions that high-tech running shoes advance athletic performance or reduce injury, the AFP reported.   

Since the 1970's, the supremacy of the running shoe has been a popular misconception that has sky-rocketed into a vast industry, said Craig Richards, a physiologist at Newcastle University.  However, a study of sports medicine literature since 1950 found there was no substantiating evidence to support this claim.

Lead researcher, Richards, told the press, "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."

"But we searched all the sports medicine literature we could find looking for a carefully controlled trial measuring whether or not modern hi-tech running shoes decrease injury rates, improve performance or decrease the risk of osteoarthritis later in life. We basically couldn't find anything," he said.

Richards' comprehensive study, which is published in the current edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, indicated that although the shoes endured sufficient biomechanical testing, the inspection was limited and one-sided as it had not been scrutinized in a real-world environment.

He supported his affirmation with this statement, "You can't determine whether or not a shoe changes your injury rates in a laboratory."

Running shoes are generally designed with cushioned, supportive heels for the purpose of absorbing impact, and a higher ankle support to prevent the foot from rolling as well as shield the Achilles tendon. Richards advocates these assumptions have never had to undergo a street test. 

He believes advertising sold this myth for so many years, not sports medicine.

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

He plans to explore the benefits of the running shoe, if any, in a new study expected later this year. 


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