Wearing Running Shoes Does NOT Correct Pronation

The rearfoot angle (RFA) is a biomechanical variable widely used to determine the rearfoot motion (RM).

Shoe manufacturers began to develop running shoes with RM control that would supposedly alter foot-ground interaction mechanics and neutralize excessive pronation or supination; moreover, some studies have not shown differences in rearfoot motion in shod condition compared to barefoot.

This study intended to answer three questions:

1 – Do the shoes runners wear correspond to their respective barefoot RM?

2 – Does the eversion angle change during shod running, regardless the shoes worn?

3 – Can footwear designed for a specific RM (supination, pronation, neutral) correct or neutralize the eversion angle of runners?

Now this is a topic dear to our hearts at Bartold Clinical. For some time now we have been proposing changes to the way we look at, assess and prescribe running shoes, particularly in relation to two ubiquitous terms in our vernacular

overpronation and motion control

This recent study

The Association Between Rearfoot Motion While Barefoot and Shod in Different Types of Running Shoes in Recreational Runners, Silva et al Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2020) 19, 383 – 389 may be read in its entirety here.

However, the authors did not hold back in their conclusions, which are as follows:

  • The footwear worn by the runners DID NOT correspond to their respective barefoot rearfoot motion.
  • The eversion angle is GREATER during running with shoes than barefoot condition, meaning rearfoot kinematics is changed in shod running.
  • Wearing running shoes designed for their rearfoot motion DID NOT correct the pronation.

So, can we PLEASE stop talking about shoes controlling pronation (whatever that means) now?



The next paper which made me sit up is entitled

The Achilles Tendon Response to a Bout of Running is not affected by Triceps Surae Stretch Training in Runners, Neves et al Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2020) 19, 358 – 363

As you will all by now know, the idea that stretching may be beneficial, at any level, has really been put under the microscope in recent years.

Again the authors were unequivocal in their conclusion:

  • Achilles tendon cross-sectional area does not change following a three-week triceps surae stretching protocol in recreational runners.
  • Achilles tendon cross-sectional area significantly decreases following running.
  • A three-week triceps surae stretching protocol is effective for increasing dorsiflexion range of motion.

So what we need to figure out from this is what is more important, Achilles tendon cross sectional area, or range of motion into dorsiflexion.

The paper may be read in its entirety here.

I know what I think is more important, by quite a long stretch.

How about you?

Leave a comment please!

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