Minimalist Running Shoes and Injury Risk

This is not a new study and I did comment on it almost two years ago when the results were first available. What is new is that it was finally published in full today:

Minimalist Running Shoes and Injury Risk Among United States Army Soldiers
Tyson Greir, MS, Michelle Canham-Chervak, PhD, MPH, Timothy Bushman, MS, Morgan Anderson, MPH, William North, MS and Bruce H. Jones, MD, MPH
Am J Sports Med March 7, 2016
Background: Minimalist running shoes (MRS) are lightweight, are extremely flexible, and have little to no cushioning. It has been thought that MRS will enhance running performance and decrease injury risk.
Purpose: To compare physical characteristics, fitness performance, and injury risks associated with soldiers wearing MRS and those wearing traditional running shoes (TRS).
Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.
Methods: Participants were men in a United States Army brigade (N = 1332). Physical characteristics and Army Physical Fitness Test data were obtained by survey. Fitness performance testing was administered at the brigade, and the types of footwear worn were identified by visual inspection. Shoe types were categorized into 2 groups: TRS (stability, cushioning, and motion control) and MRS. Injuries from the previous 12 months were obtained from the Defense Medical Surveillance System. A t test was used to determine mean differences between personal characteristics, training, and fitness performance metrics by shoe type. Hazard ratios and 95% CIs were calculated to determine injury risk by shoe type, controlling for other risk factors.
Results: A majority of soldiers wore cushioning shoes (57%), followed by stability shoes (24%), MRS (17%), and motion control shoes (2%). Soldiers wearing MRS were slightly younger than those wearing TRS (P < .01); performed more push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups (P < .01); and ran faster during the 2-mile run (P = .01). When other risk factors were controlled, there was no difference in injury risk for running shoe type between soldiers wearing MRS compared with TRS. Conclusions: Soldiers who chose to wear MRS were younger and had higher physical performance scores compared with soldiers wearing TRS. When these differences are controlled, use of MRS does not appear to be associated with higher or lower injury risk in this population.

This was in a military population and can not necessarily be extrapolated to the wider population of runners. They pretty much showed that it did not matter what type of running shoe was used during their basic training, it did not affect the injury rate. This is consistent with pretty much what all the research is showing and is not consistent with the propaganda and rhetoric that we been hearing for years from the fan boys. Enough said.

As always, I go where the evidence takes me until convinced otherwise …. and you do not get less injuries by using minimalist running shoes.

Grier, T., Canham-Chervak, M., Bushman, T., Anderson, M., North, W., & Jones, B. (2016). Minimalist Running Shoes and Injury Risk Among United States Army Soldiers The American Journal of Sports Medicine DOI: 10.1177/0363546516630926

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2 Responses to Minimalist Running Shoes and Injury Risk

  1. Mario Caron March 20, 2016 at 5:27 pm #

    I’ve been enjoying your news letter for a few years I think. Though I don’t have a scientific background, it seems to me that many studies about minimalist footwear appear to miss one important factor which is the long transition time required to go from traditional to minimalist. In my case, as a lonely but very consistent trail runner, my transition took at least 12-18 months before I could to technical trails or runs longer than 10 K in Luna Sandals or trail five finger shoes without pain all over my feet and legs. Any study on my running during that transition would have come out with various negative or undesirable conclusions.

  2. Diego July 20, 2016 at 2:43 pm #

    I am curious to know how the study measured the “injury risk” and see the actual figures.

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