A study published in the December 2009 issue of PM&R: The journal of injury, function, and rehabilitation concluded that the use of modern running shoes could cause damage to knee, hip, and ankle joints. The study, conducted on 68 healthy adult runners, showed surprising results.
For the study, subjects were observed using a treadmill with a motion analysis system. None of the participants had any history of musculoskeletal injury, and each was in the habit of running 15 miles per week. Each participant was required to run both barefoot and wearing typical running shoes. The results showed that running with shoes may increase the stress on knee joints by up to 38%. “There is an increase in joint torque that may be detrimental,” said D. Casey Kerrigan, MD, the author of the study.
This may serve as a call for shoemakers to redesign their products, making them more safe for runners. The study pointed to the attributes of the shoes as the possible cause of the problem, including elevated heels and raised arches. The added material in running shoes may counteract the body’s natural response to running, in the end doing more harm than good.
The increased stress on knee joints may lead to osteoarthritis if continued over a long period of time, it is theorized. However, Bruce Williams, a spokesman for the American Podiatric Medical Association, doubts this claim. “It’s much ado about nothing,” said Williams, concluding “there was an increase in joint forces, but that’s it.” The study was not designed to show a link between running shoes and osteoarthritis.