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A Theoretical Perspective on Running-Related Injuries

Jodi Lynn Gallant School of Rehabilitation Science, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.

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Michael Raymond Pierrynowski School of Rehabilitation Science, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.

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The etiology of running-related injuries remains unknown; however, an implicit theory underlies much of the conventional research and practice in the prevention of these injuries. This theory posits that the cause of running-related injuries lies in the high-impact forces experienced when the foot contacts the ground and the subsequent abnormal movement of the subtalar joint. The application of this theory is seen in the design of the modern running shoe, with cushioning, support, and motion control. However, a new theory is emerging that suggests that it is the use of these modern running shoes that has caused a maladaptive running style, which contributes to a high incidence of injury among runners. The suggested application of this theory is to cease use of the modern running shoe and transition to barefoot or minimalist running. This new running paradigm, which is at present inadequately defined, is proposed to avoid the adverse biomechanical effects of the modern running shoe. Future research should rigorously define and then test both theories regarding their ability to discover the etiology of running-related injury. Once discovered, the putative cause of running-related injury will then provide an evidence-based rationale for clinical prevention and treatment.

Corresponding author: Jodi Lynn Gallant, BKin, MSc, School of Rehabilitation Science, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8N 3Z5. (E-mail: gallaj4@mcmaster.ca)