Injuries and footwear (Part 1): Athletic shoe history and injuries in relation to foot arch height and training in boots
Date of this Version
This article traces the history of the athletic shoe, examines whether selecting running shoes based on foot arch height influences injuries, and examines historical data on injury rates when physical training (PT) is performed in boots versus running shoes. In the 1980s and into the 2000s, running shoe companies were advertising specialized shoes with “motion control,” “stability,” and “cushioning,” designed for individuals with low, normal, and high arches, respectively. Despite marketing claims that these shoes would reduce injury rates, coordinated studies in Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps basic training showed that assigning or selecting shoes on this basis had no effect on injury rates. Consistent with this finding, biomechanical studies have shown that the relationships between arch height, foot joint mobility, and rear-foot motion are complex, variable, and frequently not as strong as often assumed. In 1982, the US Army switched from PT in boots to PT in running shoes because of the belief that boots were causing injuries and that running shoes would reduce injury rates. However, a historical comparison of injury rates before and after the switch to running shoes showed virtually no difference in injury risk between the two periods. It is not clear at this point if the type of footwear effects injury incidence.
This document has been peer reviewed.