Do your running shoes match your running style?

Before you buy a running shoe, make sure you know your foot strike pattern. A study published in the Journal of Athletic Training says that runners who like to wear minimalist shoes are not necessarily good at identifying their own foot strike patterns.

The study showed that 57 per cent of runners who wear minimalist shoes correctly identified their strike pattern. This compares with 90 per cent of runners who wear more traditional shoes.

Researchers studied 60 healthy runners who ran at least 12 miles per week and had at least six months of experience wearing either traditional or minimalist shoes. For the purpose of the study, minimalist shoes were defined as any shoes that were very flexible, contained minimal supportive features, and had a heel-to-forefoot drop of four millimeters or less.

The runners were asked to classify themselves as either anterior foot strikers (ie, not landing on the heel) or rear foot strikers. Researchers then analysed each participant as he or she ran on a treadmill for five minutes and determined each participant’s actual foot strike pattern.

The runners who wore traditional shoes correctly classified themselves as heel strikers most of the time. However, the 40 runners who wore minimalist shoes tended to think they were anterior-foot strikers, but 17 of them, 42.5 per cent, were wrong. This puts them at risk of injury because of the likelihood of their shoe not being suitable for their running style.

This study supported prior research indicating that runners who wear minimalist shoes do not automatically transition to an anterior foot strike pattern.