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Injury Reduction Effectiveness of Selecting Running Shoes Based on Plantar Shape

Knapik, Joseph J1; Swedler, David I1; Grier, Tyson L1; Hauret, Keith G1; Bullock, Steven H1; Williams, Kelly W2; Darakjy, Salima S1; Lester, Mark E3; Tobler, Steven K4; Jones, Bruce H1

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: May 2009 - Volume 23 - Issue 3 - p 685-697
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181a0fc63
Original Research

Knapik, JJ, Swedler, DI, Grier, TL, Hauret, KG, Bullock, SH, Williams, KW, Darakjy, SS, Lester, ME, Tobler, SK, and Jones, BH. Injury reduction effectiveness of selecting running shoes based on plantar shape. J Strength Cond Res 23(3): 685-697, 2009-Popular running magazines and running shoe companies suggest that imprints of the bottom of the feet (plantar shape) can be used as an indication of the height of the medial longitudinal foot arch and that this can be used to select individually appropriate types of running shoes. This study examined whether or not this selection technique influenced injury risk during United States Army Basic Combat Training (BCT). After foot examinations, BCT recruits in an experimental group (E: n = 1,079 men and 451 women) selected motion control, stability, or cushioned shoes for plantar shapes judged to represent low, medium, or high foot arches, respectively. A control group (C: n = 1,068 men and 464 women) received a stability shoe regardless of plantar shape. Injuries during BCT were determined from outpatient medical records. Other previously known injury risk factors (e.g., age, fitness, and smoking) were obtained from a questionnaire and existing databases. Multivariate Cox regression controlling for other injury risk factors showed little difference in injury risk between the E and C groups among men (risk ratio (E/C) = 1.01; 95% confidence interval = 0.88-1.16; p = 0.87) or women (risk ratio (E/C) = 1.07; 95% confidence interval = 0.91-1.25; p = 0.44). In practical application, this prospective study demonstrated that selecting shoes based on plantar shape had little influence on injury risk in BCT. Thus, if the goal is injury prevention, this selection technique is not necessary in BCT.

1United States Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland; 2Research and Analysis Cell, Fort Jackson, South Carolina; 3United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, Massachusetts; and 4Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Washington DC

Address correspondence to Joseph J. Knapik,

© 2009 National Strength and Conditioning Association