Maybe footwear comfort is not so important after all!

Back in May of 2017, Professor Benno Nigg and his collaberators from The Human Performance Laboratory at The University of Calgary, in Canada  and ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, published a paper entitled:


The relationship between footwear comfort and variability of running kinematics

In this paper, the researchers made a clear statement suggeting that footwear comfort, as rated subjectively by the wearer, had a direct influence on not only performance, but potentially injury prevention.

You can read the paper here.

Since this paper's publication, it has generally been accepted that this IS the case and that comfort was THE most impoortant overall characteristic of running footwear.

Until THIS new paper came along, and turned it all upside down again!

Does enhanced footwear comfort affect oxygen consumption and running biomechanics? 

Lindorfer et al, 2019, European Journal of Sport Science


It was a relatively small study of only 15 male runners and was conducted on a treadmill, and the researchers looked at:

  • oxygen consumption,
  • spatio-temporal variables
  • including foot-ground angle and coupling angle variability of 12 couplings in five stride phases
  • Here are the highlights of the conclusions of this study..

According to the paradigm of the comfort filter, comfortable footwear positively affects running economy and decreases lower extremity injury risk.

Based on analyses of oxygen consumption and biomechanical variables during treadmill running in shoes of differing comfort,

no support for the paradigm of the comfort filter could be provided

Potential beneficial effects of enhanced footwear comfort are highly individual and should be subject to further investigations.

So, based on the findings of this study,

previous suggestions regarding positive effects of enhanced footwear comfort during running cannot be supported – neither on economy nor on injury prevention perspective.

However, a prospective study of lower extremity injury combined with measurements of biomechanical and physiological variables seems to be required for a definite support or contradiction of the comfort filter.

You can read the full paper here.

Simon Bartold
Director of Bartold Clinical