Have you heard that how your foot pronates, or rolls inward, as you land affects your injury risk? Pronate too much or too little, conventional wisdom tells us, and you’ll wind up hurt. Well, apparently we were wrong.
An article in the NYTimes by Gretchen Reynolds talks about some interesting results from a study of 1000 NON-runners who were given a pair of lightweight, neutral shoes and told to run for a year. They were asked to wear a GPS watch and report any injuries. The findings of the study imply that wearing a neutral shoe could actually be safer than wearing a shoe that professes to “help” your condition.
Pronation, of course, is natural and desirable during running. When your foot flattens and rolls inward as you strike the ground, that is, when it pronates, it absorbs some of the forces generated by the impact of landing, which can lead to a heightened risk of injuries to the leg or hip.
Everyone pronates in different ways, for example there is neutral pronation, over-pronation, severe over-pronation, under-pronation or severe under-pronation.
When runners choose their shoes based on their foot type, motion-control shoes, for instance, to reduce how much they pronate, they sustain injuries at the same rate or at higher rates than when they choose shoes at random, therefore supposedly deviant degrees of pronation may not in practice be abnormal and do not contribute to injuries, so comfort is likely to be a better guide to shoe choice than foot posture.
In fact it is more important to pay attention to things like body mass, training, behavior, age and previous injury in order to prevent running-related injuries.