Could running shoes be bad for your joints

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Feb 01, 2012

Running is one of this century’s favourite modes of exercise. It has become a common sight for people to be seen in the early morning and late evening in parks running with iPod earphones dangling down their shirts and running shoes on their feet getting their daily dose of exercise. Puncturing a hole in the universally held notion that running shoes help you run better is a study published in PM&R: The Journal of Injury, Function and Rehabilitation – a journal published by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

running shoes“Stress felt on the knee joints by up to 38 per cent”

This study, conducted by a team of doctors and researchers led by D. Casey Kerrigan, MD has found that in comparison to running barefoot, running in running shoes causes an increase in the level of stress felt on the knee joints by up to 38 per cent. The researchers studied 68 runners – 37 women, with an average age of 31, and 31 men, with an average age of 36 – who ran at least 15 miles a week. None of the respondents had any history of musculoskeletal injury. They ran barefoot on a treadmill and then in a running shoe called ‘the Brooks Adrenaline’.


One cannot jump to conclusions like ‘stop running with shoes on’

The study claims that compared to running barefoot, running in running shoes increased stress on the lower extremities. They found a 54 per cent increase in the hip internal rotation torque and a 36 per cent to 38 per cent increase in knee torque (torque is a measure of how much a force causes the joint to rotate). While the paper does not take a stand on whether the increase is detrimental to the body or not, doctors in India are not worried yet. On the condition of anonymity, one Delhi-based physician said, “There may be one research paper saying that, but until it is looked into further and in much greater detail, one cannot jump to conclusions like ‘stop running with shoes on’ or anything. It is important to be careful, but it need not be taken to ridiculous lengths based on one research that does not say anything conclusively.”


A new shoe should be designed

In an interview to a health website, Kerrigan, the lead researcher, has been quoted as saying that she was not suggesting that it is better to run barefoot, but only that a new shoe should be designed, keeping these findings in mind. Kerrigan herself is the head of JKM Technologies in Virginia, USA and is designing a running shoe.


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