Shoe Cushioning Influences the Running Injury Risk According to Body Mass: A Randomized Controlled Trial Involving 848 Recreational Runners

Laurent Malisoux*, Nicolas Delattre, Axel Urhausen, Daniel Theisen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Shoe cushioning is expected to protect runners against repetitive loading of the musculoskeletal system and therefore running-related injuries. Also, it is a common belief that heavier runners should use footwear with increased shock absorption properties to prevent injuries. Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine if shoe cushioning influences the injury risk in recreational runners and whether the association depends on the runner’s body mass. Study Design: Randomized controlled trial; Level of evidence, 1. Methods: Healthy runners (n = 848) randomly received 1 of 2 shoe prototypes that only differed in their cushioning properties. Global stiffness was 61.3 ± 2.7 and 94.9 ± 5.9 N/mm in the soft and hard versions, respectively. Participants were classified as light or heavy according to their body mass using the median as a cut-off (78.2 and 62.8 kg in male and female runners, respectively). They were followed over 6 months regarding running activity and injury (any physical complaint reducing/interrupting running activity for at least 7 days). Data were analyzed through time-to-event models with the subhazard rate ratio (SHR) and their 95% confidence interval (CI) as measures of association. A stratified analysis was conducted to investigate the effect of shoe cushioning on the injury risk in lighter and heavier runners. Results: The runners who had received the hard shoes had a higher injury risk (SHR, 1.52 [95% CI, 1.07-2.16]), while body mass was not associated with the injury risk (SHR, 1.00 [95% CI, 0.99-1.01]). However, after stratification according to body mass, results showed that lighter runners had a higher injury risk in hard shoes (SHR, 1.80 [95% CI, 1.09-2.98]) while heavier runners did not (SHR, 1.23 [95% CI, 0.75-2.03]). Conclusion: The injury risk was higher in participants running in the hard shoes compared with those using the soft shoes. However, the relative protective effect of greater shoe cushioning was found only in lighter runners. Registration: NCT03115437 (

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)473-480
    Number of pages8
    JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


    • epidemiology
    • footwear
    • injury prevention
    • running


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