Lightweight shoes are a risk to heavy runners

28 June 2017

Minimalist or lightweight shoes may cause harm to runners carrying extra weight, researchers claim.

Academics from the University of South Australia’s Sansom Institute for Health Research assessed 61 trained runners over a 26-week period.

Accordingly, they found that those who with a body weight of more than 85 kilograms and training in lightweight running shoes were over three times more likely to sustain an injury than when wearing conventional running shoes. But lighter runners, weighing less than 71 kilograms, were able to improve their performance more when training in lightweight shoes, and this had no adverse effects on their injury risk.

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“About two million Australians participate in regular running or jogging as a means to improve their fitness or health, yet over half of us that run will incur an injury over the next 12 months,” said lead researcher Dr. Joel Fuller. “The common solution is to buy a new pair of shoes - but do we buy heavily-cushioned shoes with lots of support to protect us from impacts when running, or lightweight shoes with minimal cushioning and support, to try to simulate a ‘bare-foot’ running experience? We found that the best shoe choice depended on your body weight."

Meanwhile, co-researcher Professor Jon Buckley explained that while the findings are specifically connected to body weight, not body mass index (BMI), running distance also had an impact, regardless of weight. He encouraged keen runners to research bodyweight guidelines when buying new shoes in order to avoid unnecessary injuries.

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“Weight produces higher impact forces that increase injury, regardless if this is the result of being a taller and possibly heavier person, or a person carrying a little more weight than average," he said. “So it’s not the BMI to be concerned about, it’s the actual weight."

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