Does the shoes based on arch support really help with injury management?

Fitness including running used to be simple earlier. With simple shoes, basic running attire and absolutely no fitness watch, people would still run long distances and stay fit. While the technological advancement in sports is breaking new avenues, it is also making people more confused and dependent on the new gadgets & technologies. Take for example the running shoes which is by far the most important piece of attire for a runner. While earlier we would have standard designs of shoes for all but today we have different shoes depending on how you land your feet on the ground or rather your gait. This might be really helpful for people who are on the extreme ends of their gait, who either underpronate or overpronate but what about others who don’t really need customized shoes?

Is the foot mapping technology or arch support shoes really helping people with preventing injury and enabling runner/athletes to deliver their best? Not really if you go by the research done by RunRepeat. They based their research on more than 185 hours and through 150+ studies and resources about arch support to assess its effect on performance, balance, and injury risk in running. The research also claims that the findings are backed up by scientific evidence.

Highlights of the research report

The team researched about arch support and pronation including scientific studies and research about arch support, pronation, and injury risks for runners. They have checked the sources and citations quoted by both sides (pro & anti) and also contacted experts in their respective fields (including doctors) to capture their opinion.

After going through the research and expert opinion, they concluded that arch support is not a quick fix for injuries, pronation, or performance related issues. However, it can help in specific conditions or injuries, especially custom orthotics prescribed by qualified experts.

The truth about arch support

Shoe manufacturing companies have huge marketing budgets. Salespersons would love to get some extra sales from customers who are in store. All these marketing campaigns and persuasion will make you think that a specific shoe or insert is the solution to all of your problems.

According to Dr Mathew Klein, “You should not choose a shoe based on the wet test. That is a static test.  A wet test or another static motion test are extremely poor ways to prescribe footwear.  You don’t stand still when you run. You move.  Thus it would make more sense to choose a shoe based on motion analysis.  However, what has been shown in the research to be one of the best ways to choose a shoe is how comfortable it is.  If the shoe is not causing any weird rubbing spots, is comfortable and fits well, go for it.”

We also spoke to Ashwani Yadav, an avid runner today who ran his first marathon in 2015. Ashwani has had his share of trouble with an injury after going for shoes based on his gait. Recounting his experience he said, “when I started running 2 years ago I honestly didn’t know much about shoes, technologies, arch support etc. I just bought a decent pair of Nike shoes and started training. I went on to use that shoes for over a year and never had any running related injury. While I continued with my passion of love for running, I also learnt new things about 3D technology and arch based shoes which could make me a better runner. Ever since I bought Asics Gel Kayano 23 after getting my gait analysed, I have been struggling to keep the pain in my knee at bay. I think I am going to go back to most basic running shoes to run pain-free.”

While we need more scientific research to come out in support of the claim, it is still a worthy information to be aware of when we you go on to buy your next pair of running shoes. Happy running!

Research report from RunRepeat 

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