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Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-095054
  • Review

Running shoes and running injuries: mythbusting and a proposal for two new paradigms: ‘preferred movement path’ and ‘comfort filter’

  1. H Enders
  1. Faculty of Kinesiology, Human Performance Laboratory, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr BM Nigg, Faculty of Kinesiology, Human Performance Laboratory, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4; nigg{at}ucalgary.ca
  • Accepted 4 July 2015
  • Published Online First 28 July 2015

Abstract

In the past 100 years, running shoes experienced dramatic changes. The question then arises whether or not running shoes (or sport shoes in general) influence the frequency of running injuries at all. This paper addresses five aspects related to running injuries and shoe selection, including (1) the changes in running injuries over the past 40 years, (2) the relationship between sport shoes, sport inserts and running injuries, (3) previously researched mechanisms of injury related to footwear and two new paradigms for injury prevention including (4) the ‘preferred movement path’ and (5) the ‘comfort filter’. Specifically, the data regarding the relationship between impact characteristics and ankle pronation to the risk of developing a running-related injury is reviewed. Based on the lack of conclusive evidence for these two variables, which were once thought to be the prime predictors of running injuries, two new paradigms are suggested to elucidate the association between footwear and injury. These two paradigms, ‘the preferred movement path’ and ‘the comfort filter’, suggest that a runner intuitively selects a comfortable product using their own comfort filter that allows them to remain in the preferred movement path. This may automatically reduce the injury risk and may explain why there does not seem to be a secular trend in running injury rates.

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