Are running shoes the cause of running injuries or a way to prevent them?

Are running shoes the cause of running injuries or a way to prevent them?

If you ask most runners, they usually have shoe preferences.   Once they find a shoe they like and can rely on for training, many will look to buy that same shoe year after year.   Unfortunately, manufacturers often refresh their lines yearly which for some runners is stressful if their favorite shoe is being discontinued.

Does their shoe help them prevent injury?

If you ask those who prefer barefoot or minimalist running, they believe shoes are the problem and they weaken the feet.  The minimalist craze a few years ago showed many runners developing painful problems when running minimalist or without shoes.

On the other hand, the idea that cushioning or shoes that control the foot may prevent injuries has been questioned as well.   Could it be that some of us may do better with certain types of shoes, while others may be better off with a more minimalist approach?

Runners World examined the idea behind shoes and injury prevention.   Check out what they had to say and their newest shoe recommendations for 2021.

Do Running Shoes Cause or Prevent Injury?

Hint: Think of shoes as a part of a plan, not a cure-all or scapegoat.


Because our sport is relatively simple, runners tend to focus on their shoes more than most athletes. We often speak about shoes as if they’re at least as responsible for our running as we are, from, “I PR’d because of these shoes” to, “I’m injured because of these shoes.” Indeed, in one study of runners’ views in 2014 on what causes injury, “wearing the wrong shoes” was one of the most popular responses.

While there’s decent evidence that most runners can go faster in certain types of shoes, there’s much less certainty on the relationship between running shoes and injury. Below is a summary of what we know about whether shoes cause or prevent injury.

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