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Are minimalist running shoes really to blame when it comes to running injuries?

Recently I was asked to be part of a point/counterpoint discussion regarding minimalist shoes to be features in the Podiatry Today periodical. While preparing the literature to defend my position on defending minimalist shoes (as form and training patterns are far more important then shoe gear) it became clear to me that the focus of injury is moving away from foot structure to blaming shoes directly. The naysayers of minimalist shoes focus their argument on the fact that these shoes are not supportive and offer no motion control for runners. If you examine the literate published to date on minimalist shoes, not one single article compared foot structure to injury rate. In fact 100% of the literature published to date has demonstrated the injuries are secondary to overuse as a result of not transitioning to the less supportive shoe. Not one of these studies is demonstrating injury from the shoe as a result of a flat foot.

There are a lot of runners with flat feet out there who aren’t getting injured. Why? Because flat feet are nothing more then that. A flat foot is a variance of foot type which can function no differently then a “normal” or “high” arched foot. The focus on footwear has become so misconstrued that I regularly see patients with what is described as a normal arch coming to see me wearing orthotics and motion control running shoes still experiencing pain. Rarely does a physician discuss form and training patterns with a runner.

Once again, running injuries basically boil down to a few simple facts that our society has a hard time focusing on- form and training patterns. I realize than there are more variables that play a role, but we could significantly lower the yearly injury rate amongst runners if we could divert our focus away from shoes.

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