Maximal Running Shoes May Increase Risk of Injury!


Our office continues to be open to all new and existing patients. We use hospital-grade sanitizers and are taking measures to ensure patients maintain social distancing by not having anyone wait in our reception room with others. If you prefer to wait in your car, just give us a call and we will call or text you when we are ready to bring you straight into a treatment room. Our entire staff is wearing masks and we encourage you to do the same.

For those patients who cannot or still wish not to visit the office, we are offering private video telemedicine visits. Simply call the office at 713-785-7881 and ask for an e-visit and we will be happy to get you set up for an immediate appointment. You can also request an appointment through our website.

It turns out that the most padded shoe may not be the best shoe for runners!In a surprising new twist of science, a study published in The Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine now suggests that maximal running shoes actually increase the impact on a runner’s body, simultaneously increasing his or her risk of  sustaining an injury! Maximal running shoes feature increased cushioning, particularly in the forefoot region of the midsole.

To reach this conclusion, researchers in the Functional Orthopedic Research Center of Excellence (FORCE) Lab studied 15 female runners wearing neutral and maximal sneakers, evaluating the impacts on runners' feet and legs before and after a simulated 5,000 meter run on a treadmill (about 3 miles). Each subject wore a neutral running shoe (specifically, the New Balance 880) for one test and then, after a seven to 10-day waiting period, repeated the run wearing a maximal shoe (Hoke One One Bondi 4). In each test, 3-D movements and forces were measured by monitoring reflective markers placed on the runners' shoes and legs and by having the subjects run over a device that recorded the forces being applied as their feet hit the surface.

Oddly, researchers found that runners experienced a higher impact peak and increased loading rate when wearing the maximal shoes, putting their wearers at greater risk of injuries like plantar fasciitis and stress fractures.

FORCE Lab director Christine Pollard said, "We were surprised by these results. We thought we would see the opposite. Typically, increased cushioning results in a reduction in the impact peak and loading rate of the vertical ground reaction force. We suspect that the large amount of cushioning across the entire midsole caused the runners to rely more on the shoe than on their own internal structures to attenuate these forces."

The research is another voice in the long-running debate over optimal running shoes, and will likely score a point in favor of those who advocate minimalist running. Of course, Pollard cautions, this study was only conducted with female subjects, and she says to expect that a study with male runners might produce different results. "We know that gender differences in running biomechanics do exist," she concludes.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
Connect with me
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.