Researchers Start Study to Develop Ratings for Footwear

Researchers Start Study to Develop Ratings for Footwear

RESEARCHERS are lacing up their boots to find the world’s best running shoe in a study that could change the way we buy footwear forever.

The Hunter Medical Research Institute is in the process of recruiting 2000 runners from across Australia to take part in the trial, which will see 11 high-end shoes tested over 12 months to rate their performance and safety.

Project leader Dr Craig Richards said that while manufacturers saturated shoe marketing with “pseudo-science”, there was very little independent research to suggest all those air-cushions, springy heels and soft-gel soles actually made a difference.

“Marketing for shoes is all about telling a story at the moment, and that story is very much woven around perceptions of technology and scientific advancement,” he said.

“But, as good as their intentions might be, the shoe companies don’t actually know whether it works.”

Dr Richards said there was “an overwhelming need” for a star-rating system across the industry, similar to ANCAP safety ratings already in place for cars.

“People buy shoes or have running shoes prescribed to them by health professionals, but there is actually no scientific basis for those choices,” he said.

“We don’t know if cushioning is good or bad, or whether too much or not enough of it is a problem, and we don’t know whether shoes with built-up heels or flat shoes are better for you.”

“The only way to find out if a shoe suits you at the moment is to buy it and find out from personal experience.”

Shoes included in the trial range from “barefoot” models featuring separate toes and minimum cushioning to “ultra-cushioned” varieties.

Researchers plan to expand the range of shoes tested in coming trials.

Anyone who runs regularly can take part in the research, which requires participants to purchase a pair of shoes in the trial list at cost price.

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