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Member Research and Reports

Oregon State: Study Finds Despite Transition Period, Maximal Running Shoes May Still Lead to Increased Risk of Injury

A six-week transition period did not help wearers adjust to “maximal” running shoes, indicating that increased impact forces and loading rates caused by the shoe design do not change over time, a new study from Oregon State University – Cascades has found.

The shoes, which feature increased cushioning, particularly in the forefoot region of the midsole, affect runners’ biomechanics, leaving them at increased risk of injury, says Dr. Christine Pollard, director of the Bend campus’s Functional Orthopedic Research Center of Excellence (FORCE) Lab and a co-author of the study.

“These shoes may work for certain people, but right now we just don’t know who they are good for,” says Dr. Pollard, an associate professor of kinesiology at OSU-Cascades. “The findings suggest that people aren’t really changing the way they run in the shoes, even after a six-week transition, potentially leaving them at increased risk of injury.”

The study was published recently in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. The lead author is Dr. J.J. Hannigan, a post-doctoral researcher in the FORCE Lab.

Maximal shoes have been growing in popularity since being introduced in 2010. More than 20 varieties of maximal shoes are on the market, but little research has been conducted on the shoes to understand their effect on running biomechanics. Controlled studies, like the research at the FORCE Lab, help clinicians make science-based recommendations to runners.

Researchers in the FORCE Lab previously conducted a study of people running in the shoes before and after a 5K treadmill run; the findings from that study suggested that the maximal shoes may increase impact force and loading rates, which indicate a greater risk of injury.

Read full article for additional findings.

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