Essay on the harmful effects of modern running shoes.

Here is a very interesting article written by Dr. Joseph Froncioni (an orthopaedic surgeon) that is well worth a read:

Some questions/thoughts that immediately spring to mind after reading it are:

1) Is there a trade-off we have to take into consideration when running on unnatural man made hard surfaces no mater how correct good your running technique is? (ie: some forefoot cushioning in shoes)?

2) Can we place any faith in orthopaedic surgeons who prescribe orthodontics for runners? If the theory of this essay is correct, it would imply that even the specialist might have an incorrect understanding on how the feet respond and deal with impact stress when applied to a sport such as running and also corrective prescription.

3) The implications that modern day running shoes are no good for you, weather in the short or long term, by simply not being at all effective in doing anything to either "re-educate" or strengthen any foot muscle weakness/imbalance, making our already Lazy feet muscles even lazier, impairing the bodies natural feet to brain sensory feedback system (given to us by natural evolution over many thousands of years) is quite profound, especially to a runner. So bearing this in mind, where does the average Joe now turn to for the best advice?

I appreciate that the main things to sort out to reduce any risk of repetitive impact related injuries is to start off with learning how to run with the correct technique first and foremost, but it begs the question of how far does a modern day running shoe inhibit this process and why is this not front page news on all running sites/organizations etc across the globe? Because to me implications of this sort of talk is as shocking as hearing that the earth is might actually be round instead of flat... ok, maybe not quite that shocking :D

Last point; be gentle with me...

Anyone have any thoughts on this?


  • Certainly makes you think, doesn't it. May well try the barefoot thing and see if it does any good.
  • interesting reading...and advocates of pose or chi running styles already argue for running in lightweights and landing mid/forefoot. Also interesting is that such a potentially significant article has had so few posts/comments. I'd expected a bit of discussion at least...
  • I think the Chi and forefoot runners will agree with this

    I think theres a lot to it
  • but the article (unless I read it wrong)
    doesnt advocate forefoot running just less cushioned shoes and allowing the lower leg to strengthen and adapt
    I overpronate badly in "normal" shoes suffering piriformis injuries and wear custom orthoses,now no old injury however my calfs have tightened and I wonder if I have swapped one set of problems for another
  • "orthodontics for runners"

    how will sorting their teeth help??



  • the reasons there havenot been many posts are
    a) it's a saturday night
    b) it's nothing new

    the running shoe debate has been going on for ages, amongst sporting academics and sports men and women
    there are a few long running threads on here about forefoot running, pose running and barefoot running

    although i know that there is a load of money to be made in the manufacture of sports shoes and therefore it is in the manufacturers interest to feed us information which makes us think that we must wear shoes and of a particualr type

    i can't imagine that the entire running comminity is in on it
    if people found they were getting injured more, or running worse, they would stop wearing them
    i have been told by an academic that the level of sports injuries has remained unchanged since the advent of more "techincal" sports shoes.

    This may be because people trust their shoes to do the "work" and so take more risks whilst wearing them
  • going barefoot is not an option to most of us
    i agree with him that if we all went barefoot and walked on grass and dirt rather than synthetic surfaces - we would all have fantastic feet
    but we don't

    and a few runs across grassin a park is not going to make the difference it would need to completely change how our feet work IMO - not based on research - because in the west we have beeen wearing shoes since we were a year old
  • I'm going to not read the article and say this: I gauge how good a running shoe is for me by one thing - injury. That's what makes it either right or wrong.

    I'm sure in the short term using running trainers instead of going barefoot is the safer option. Of course there are benefits to the latter (barefoot), in time, but either way doesn't a company like Nike win the war on 'for or against trainers'? Think about it - they do encourage barefoot running - however it is by using a trainer.

    Now, I wont be ignorant - I'll read the article at least, but my opinion is still going to roughly be the same I'm sure.
  • Lurker-True on the timing..maybe it should be re-posted/boinged on Monday when we're all avoiding work :-). It may be as you say nothing new it is still something for newer runners may wish to read, be aware of and discuss. Finally I don't see a conspiracy of runners all being in on it but more a case of unable to see the woods for the trees..injury is an accepted part of running.

    GB-the bit inthe paper that dscribes how the bare foot works also descibes how the shod foot is encouraged to land on the heel...
  • In my teens I used to spend most of the summer barefoot. I could run across just about any surface, because the soles and heels were so hard.
    These days I wear shoes too much of the time, Brighton beach is more than I could cope with.
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  • I gauge how good a running shoe is for me by one thing - injury. That's what makes it either right or wrong.
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