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What are the perceptions of runners and healthcare professionals on footwear and running injury risk?
  1. Gurmeet K Dhillon1,
  2. Michael A Hunt2,3,
  3. Andrea L Reid1,2,
  4. Jean-Francois Esculier1,2,3,4
  1. 1Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Clinic, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2Department of Physical Therapy, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  3. 3Motion Analysis and Biofeedback Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  4. 4The Running Clinic, Lac-Beauport, Quebec, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jean-Francois Esculier; jean-francois.esculier{at}


Objectives There is a gap in research exploring perceptions of runners and healthcare professionals (HCPs) about running footwear and injury risk. The objectives of this study were: (1) to document factors considered by runners when selecting footwear; (2) to compare perceptions on footwear and injury risk in runners and HCPs; and (3) to evaluate the perceived usefulness of an online educational module.

Methods Using an online survey, we collected information on demographics and perceptions about footwear and injury risk. Runners reported their footwear selection strategy, and HCPs their typical recommendations. An evidence-based educational module was presented, and participants rated its usefulness.

Results The survey was completed by 2442 participants, of which 1035 completed the optional postmodule questions. Runners reported relying mostly on comfort and advice from retailers when selecting shoes. Perceptions regarding the effects of specific footwear types (minimalist, maximalist), characteristics (softness, drop) and selection strategy (foot type, transition) on biomechanics and injury risk were different between HCPs and runners. Overall, runners perceived footwear as more important to prevent injury than did HCPs (7.6/10, 99% CI 7.4 to 7.7 vs 6.2/10, 99% CI 6.0 to 6.5; p<0.001). Both runners (8.1/10, 99% CI 7.9 to 8.3) and HCPs (8.7/10, 99% CI 8.6 to 8.9) found the educational module useful. A majority of respondents indicated the module changed their perceptions.

Conclusion Footwear is perceived as important in reducing running injury risk. This online module was deemed useful in educating about footwear evidence. Future studies should evaluate if changes in perceptions can translate to behaviour change and, ultimately, reduced injury risk.

  • running shoes
  • knowledge translation
  • running

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  • Twitter @mhunt_ubc, @JFEsculier

  • Contributors All authors contributed to the design of the study. GD, MH and JFE collected and analysed the data, and wrote the manuscript draft. All authors provided feedback and approved the final version.

  • Funding Salary support was provided by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (JFE and MH), and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MH).

  • Competing interests JFE receives salary from The Running Clinic for teaching postgraduate continuing education to healthcare practitioners and providing lectures about running injury prevention to the public.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the institutional research ethics committee: UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board (H19-00239).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available in a public, open access repository, and are searchable from the homepage of the following website:

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