Researchers at the University of Newcastle have found no scientific evidence to support claims that commonly recommended running shoes prevent injuries in runners.
Dr Craig Richards, Dr Parker Magin and Associate Professor Robin Callister analysed sports medicine literature for studies that investigated the ability of running shoes with elevated cushioned heels and anti-pronation systems to prevent injury. The researchers identify these widely used shoes as 'Pronation Control, Elevated Cushioned Heel' (PCECH) running shoes.
The findings have been published in the latest edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
"Since the 1980s, distance running shoes with thick, heavily cushioned heels and features to control how much the heel rolls in, have been consistently recommended to runners who want to avoid injury," Dr Richards said.
"We did not identify a single study that has attempted to measure the effect of this shoe type on either injury rates or performance.
"This means there is no scientific evidence that PCECH shoes provide any benefit to distance runners."
Dutch researchers have previously found that between 37 and 56 per cent of recreational runners become injured at least once each year. These injuries mainly affect runners' legs and feet.
"Recommending a PCECH running shoe has been the standard option for preventing running injuries," Dr Richards said.
"Not only can we no longer recommend a PCECH shoe, but the lack of research in this area means that we cannot currently make any evidence-based shoe recommendations to runners.
"To resolve this uncertainty, running shoes need to be tested like any other medical treatment, in carefully controlled clinical trials.
"This will ensure that only running shoes with proven benefits can be marketed and sold as therapeutic devices.
"Until this occurs, health professionals will not know whether the distance running shoes they are recommending are beneficial, harmless or harmful."