Save Your Money: Padded Sneakers Don’t Prevent Running Injuries, Study Says

We’ve all seen the ads for expensive sneakers, equipped with extra cushioning supposedly designed for shock-absorption and running injury prevention. I’m sure some of you have wondered if spending all that money on the extra features will actually keep you healthy—now, a new study from the Department of Public Health in Luxembourg has answered that question with a resounding no.Those funky bottom grips won't prevent running injuries

Researchers from the department’s Sports Medicine Research Laboratory tested 250 runners wearing identical-looking shoes, each equipped with different levels of cushioning. They discovered weight and fitness levels made a difference in injury rates, but shoe padding didn’t.

Runners participating in the study had to train at least once a week, only use their test shoes for running and report their training information as well as any injuries they incurred; the study took place over five months.  Out of 69 runners who reported injuries, 32 used hard-soled sneakers and 37 used more cushioned shoes.

The results are pretty clear: if you run more than you are physically ready for, you are likely to experience foot pain or injury, regardless of whether you have purchased the newest Nikes or Asics. The key to staying healthy while running, then, is simple: try to maintain your weight, exercise regularly but don’t over-train and choose a shoe designed to fit your specific foot type rather than a sneaker that manufacturers claim will help you run comfortably. As a Houston podiatrist, I’d rather see you invest in a good set of custom orthotics that truly protect your feet than have you throw away money on padding that may feel nice but won’t prevent running injuries.

Running is a great way to stay fit, but only if you can avoid injury. If you have any type of running-related foot pain, schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider for quality treatment and a safer running plan.

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