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Study Finds Danger in Switching to Minimalist Running Shoes

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A recent study of more than 100 runners who began using minimalist running shoes for the first time found an unusually high incidence of injury.

After a 12-week 10K training program conducted by the Centre for Musculoskeletal Research at Griffith University in Australia, almost a quarter of the 99 runners examined in the final analysis reported some type of injury with partial mininalist shoes tallying the most and neutral shoes the least. Additionally, runners with full minimalist shoes reported the highest incidences of shin and calf pain.

The report, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, suggests that the change in running form by runners who used the full-minimalist shoes may have been the key factor for their injuries. "Clinicians should exercise caution when recommending minimalist footwear to runners otherwise new to this footwear category who are preparing for a 10 km event," the study stated.

According to one expert, Daniel Lieberman, chair of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, the study supports the view runners need to transition to using minimalist shoes gradually but does not prove such shoes are more likely to cause injury.