Objectives: To determine whether the current practice of prescribing distance running shoes featuring elevated cushioned heels and pronation control systems tailored to the individual’s foot type is evidence-based.
Data sources: MEDLINE (1950–May 2007), CINAHL (1982–May 2007), EMBASE (1980–May 2007), PsychInfo (1806–May 2007), Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2nd Quarter 2007), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled trials (2nd Quarter 2007), SPORTSDiscus (1985–May 2007) and AMED (1985–May 2007).
Review methods: English language articles were identified via keyword and medical subject headings (MeSH) searches of the above electronic databases. With these searches and the subsequent review process, controlled trials or systematic reviews were sought in which the study population included adult recreational or competitive distance runners, the exposure was distance running, the intervention evaluated was a running shoe with an elevated cushioned heel and pronation control systems individualised to the wearer’s foot type, and the outcome measures included either running injury rates, distance running performance, osteoarthritis risk, physical activity levels, or overall health and wellbeing. The quality of these studies and their findings were then evaluated.
Results: No original research that met the study criteria was identified either directly or via the findings of the six systematic reviews identified.
Conclusion: The prescription of this shoe type to distance runners is not evidence-based.
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Funding: Funding for this paper was provided in the form of income support for the first author by the Australian Government, via the Primary Health Care Research Evaluation Development Program
Competing interests: CER is a partner in the footwear design company Barefoot on Grass. PJM and RC have no competing financial interests.