Running Shoes: Injury Protection and Performance Enhancement

  • Steffen Willwacher
Reference work entry


In addition to being possibly the most frequently performed sport in the world, running is associated with a high incidence of overuse injuries. Running shoes can modify the load imposed on the runner’s body by changing the interface between the biological system and the running surface. The key shoe design features that can affect biomechanical loading are the compression and bending stiffness of the midsole and the medial support elements. These features can also affect the energy consumption of the runner, which is key to running performance. In general, no footwear design feature is able to reduce the load in the entire leg. Instead, what can be achieved is a shift of the loading from distal to more proximal regions of the limb, or vice versa, often by shifting the point of force application of the ground reaction force. Distance-running performance is strongly diminished by increases in the mass of footwear; however, this can be negated to some extent when the additional mass is due to the presence of cushioning materials, which can reduce impact costs in heel–toe runners. Future research in this field needs to identify more clearly the biomechanical risk factors associated with running-related injuries. Based on this, recommendations with respect to individually optimal footwear can be made with greater confidence. This will be essential for successful implementation of customized footwear within the running-shoe market.


Running mechanics Footwear biomechanics Sports technology Running-related injuries Overuse injuries Barefoot running Impact cushioning Midsole bending stiffness Sports performance Running economy 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Biomechanics and OrthopedicsGerman Sport UniversityCologneGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Functional DiagnosticsCologneGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • Gert-Peter Brüggemann
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Biomechanics and OrthopaedicsGerman Sport University CologneKölnGermany

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