Pain and injuries bring clients to massage. New research shows some running shoes may cause damage to knees, hips and ankles—and create greater stresses on joints than even running barefoot or walking in high-heeled shoes.

Sixty-eight healthy young adult runners (37 women, 31 men), who run in typical, currently available running shoes, were selected from the general population. None had any history of musculoskeletal injury and each ran at least 15 miles per week.

A running shoe, selected for its neutral classification and design characteristics typical of most running footwear, was provided to all runners. Using a treadmill and a motion analysis system, each subject was observed running barefoot and with shoes. Data were collected at each runner’s comfortable running pace after a warm-up period.

The researchers observed increased joint torques at the hip, knee and ankle with running shoes compared with running barefoot. Disproportionately large increases were observed in the hip internal rotation torque and in the knee flexion and knee varus torques. An average 54 percent increase in the hip internal rotation torque, a 36 percent increase in knee flexion torque, and a 38 percent increase in knee varus torque were measured when running in running shoes compared with barefoot.

The article is “The Effect of Running Shoes on Lower Extremity Joint Torques” by D. Casey Kerrigan, MD, Jason R. Franz, MS, Geoffrey S. Keenan, MD, Jay Dicharry, MPT, Ugo Della Croce, PhD, and Robert P. Wilder, MD. It appears in PM&R: The journal of injury, function and rehabilitation, Volume 1, Issue 12 (December 2009), published by Elsevier. The article has been made freely available and may be accessed by clicking here.

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