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research in Hawaii found runners who stretched before exercise were 33 per cent more likely to get hurt.
Runners wearing top-of-the-line trainers are 123 per cent more likely to get injured than runners in cheap ones. This was discovered as far back as 1989, according to a study led by Dr Bernard Marti, the leading preventative-medicine specialist at Switzerland's University of Bern.

Dr Marti's research team analysed 4,358 runners in the Bern Grand Prix, a 9.6-mile road race. All the runners filled out an extensive questionnaire that detailed their training habits and footwear for the previous year; as it turned out, 45 per cent had been hurt during that time. But what surprised Dr Marti was the fact that the most common variable among the casualties wasn't training surface, running speed, weekly mileage or 'competitive training motivation'.

It wasn't even body weight or a history of previous injury. It was the price of the shoe.
Follow-up studies found similar results, like the 1991 report in Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise that found that 'wearers of expensive running shoes that are promoted as having additional features that protect (eg, more cushioning, 'pronation correction') are injured significantly more frequently than runners wearing inexpensive shoes.'
However, then a podiatrist adds:
As for getting out your old worn out trainers and running in them - don't! Based on the individual's size and running surfaces/conditions shoes should be changed between 500-1,000 miles. It's best to seek the advice of a specialist running store.
I don't run, but I have the following anecdotal experience to report:

I get plantar fasciitis with some regularity. It gets better when I am swimming or doing water aerobics (I do those barefoot and I think the constant flexing and stretching of my foot and ankle might be making a difference). It's also better at the moment and I think part of the reason is that I'm doing some exercising on an elliptical trainer, which works my ankles a lot in different positions.

I am also struck by the similarity with articles about how dieting doesn't work to cause weight loss, and how no studies have shown that weight loss produces long-term positive effect on health, that end with a paragraph saying "But don't stop dieting!"


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 21st, 2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
Correlation is not causation -- this effect is likely produced by a third co-occurring factor. Something simple like "people who are really serious about their running buy expensive running shoes. People who are really serious about their running push themselves harder. People who push themselves harder get more injuries"

Because, you know, 70% of heroin addicts were breastfed, so clearly mother's milk is the slippery slope to addiction.
Apr. 21st, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, just read the article, and in fact his argument seems to be like some I've heard who argue against glasses -- that by providing the extra support, you are actually preventing the body from developing the muscular compensatory mechanisms itself so the feet and joints are actually weaker and more injury prone. I've heard people say that wearing glasses make people's eyes deteriorate faster as well, because it doesn't require the body to try for muscular compensation.

Interesting argument. Thanks for posting.
Apr. 21st, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
"Most violent criminals have eaten bacon!"
Apr. 21st, 2009 09:16 pm (UTC)
Mmmm, violent bacon.
Apr. 22nd, 2009 03:53 am (UTC)
Mmmm. Bacon.
Apr. 21st, 2009 08:54 pm (UTC)
One explanation I've encountered for this observation is that the cushioning in fancy running shoes is counterproductive, since it distorts a normal biophysical feedback mechanism in walking and running, which is based in the level of impact sensation in the feet - in cushioned, impact-absorbing shoes, one subconsciously tends to put one's feet down harder to get the "normal" level of sensation, resulting in -increased- stress on the knees!
Apr. 21st, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)
That's basically what the article says, yes.
Apr. 21st, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
I actually read somewhere that there was some indication in the research that those inserts to make shoes super-cushioney were doing more damage by faking out the reflexes that alter how you walk to cushion impact.
Apr. 22nd, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
I know that when I'm running in my No Sweats[1] I tend to land very gingerly - they have no sole[2] to speak of. In my running shoes I land with a lot more weight.

[1]Think Converse knock-offs.
[2]That looks wrong. But so does soul so I can't figure out how to fix it.
Apr. 21st, 2009 09:24 pm (UTC)
Another thing is that conventional wisdom from the 1970s, when many of us learned about running, was that the cost of shoes should be seen as so much a mile. That is, one should expect to replace expensive shoes less frequently. To the extent people have internalized this or just feel reluctant to spend money, and if the saying isn't really true, then maybe the people with expensive shoes have worn-out cushioning.
Apr. 21st, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
On one hand, it makes sense to me that shoes with serious arch support are actually messing up some of the arch's functionality, but on the other hand, my left foot is kind of flat and with all the walking I do it gets pretty sore if I'm *not* wearing shoes with serious arch support.
Apr. 21st, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I wear running shoes - for running around, not generally for running. My feet are kind of messed up, the shoes do well with the orthodics, and my gradual remodel process procedes... but slowly and carefully because I don't want to have knee surgery (again).

I spar for half an hour every day barefoot, and only a few years ago this would have put me at serious risk of injury. It goes...
Apr. 21st, 2009 11:53 pm (UTC)
When the doctor let me do water exercise, I wore water shoes -- no cushioning, but they kept my feet from slipping on the floor of the pool.

And today's WashPost Health section has an article on Feeling Fine About Your Body.
Apr. 22nd, 2009 03:09 am (UTC)
Also anecdotally, one of the things that I used to find about shoes that offered some kind of correction was that they almost always offered the wrong kind. (And yeah, among the serious runners this is hard to do good studies on because so many of them don't think they're training hard enough unless they're injured a good part of the time...)
Apr. 22nd, 2009 03:55 am (UTC)
"because so many of them don't think they're training hard enough unless they're injured a good part of the time"

Reminds me of my dance teacher "If it doesn't hurt, you're not doing it right!" Whihc is actually somewhat true of pointe shoes.

Apr. 22nd, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
I was thinking of getting a pair of the Vibram Five Finger shoes to see what they're like


A friend has a pair and really likes them, but he's half my age, and a sigificant fraction of my weight, so I'll have to make up my own mind. Plus, they look freaky.
Apr. 22nd, 2009 04:55 pm (UTC)
selki was writing about those here. I think she's closer to your age and weight.

Edited at 2009-04-22 05:00 pm (UTC)
Apr. 23rd, 2009 04:08 am (UTC)
The shoe thing, I can understand, especially with the insightful comments. I still don't understand why stretching is correlated with injuries that way.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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