What is it about?

This study investigates the relationship between shoe characteristics (heel height and torsional shoe stiffness) and lower extremity injury within a military training environment. In order to investigate this relationship, a more objective measure of shoe stiffness was necessary as previous studies have relied primarily on subjective interpretations of flexibility or stiffness. The authors developed a portable and reliable device to objectively measure shoe stiffness and heel height in a purely objective fashion. The shoes of incoming cadets at the United States Military Academy were assessed prior to the start of cadet basic training. Lower extremity injuries were monitored throughout the basic training period and injury rates compared between shoes with varying degrees of stiffness and heel height over a 9 week timeframe. Results indicate that wearing shoes with mild to moderate lateral torsional stiffness and heel height may be ideal in efforts to minimize lower extremity injuries.

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Why is it important?

The results of this research is timely as the military considers what might be the best type of shoe to provide for initial entry trainees as they begin the rigorous physical training that is conducted during basic training. This work will also be helpful in providing manufacturers, running coaches, as well as runners themselves more objective information related to different shoe types in addition to their relationship with lower extremity injuries.


Carrying out this study was very rewarding in that I worked with many gifted clinician scientists and we were able to improve policy related to footwear at the United States Military Academy likely reducing lower extremity injury rates in future classes. I feel like the results of this study can be very impactful for all runners allowing them to make more informed decisions about the footwear they train in particularly if we can move to standardize a more objective way of differentiating shoe types and the associated injury risk that might exist.

Gary Helton
Keller Army Community Hospital

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Association Between Running Shoe Characteristics and Lower Extremity Injuries in United States Military Academy Cadets, The American Journal of Sports Medicine, September 2019, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0363546519870534.
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