Confused on How to Prevent a Running Injury?

Did you know? Studies have shown that anyone who runs has about a 40-60 percent chance of suffering an injury – depending on what study you read.  Rather high odds in my opinion.

Over the last 40 years, research has been conducted, changes have been made in footwear, training, treatments, etc., but running injury and frequency has not decreased.

Excessive pronation and high impact forces were thought to be risk factors of injury. However, since that has not been definitively proven, new theories are developing.

Research and evidence based “Medicine” is helpful. However, just because something is not proven, does not mean it does not matter.

If something is not absolutely proven, some researchers disregard the idea, even if it has been helpful to some.

Example: Motion controlled shoes have been known to help control excessive pronation. However, researchers throw away the idea of controlling excessive pronation with motion-controlled shoes because it cannot be definitely proven helpful.  And, they cannot even define what excessive pronation is!

Also, it is possible for something to appear beneficial but later shown that is not.

Example: For a while, some researchers believed wearing shoes was to blame for the injuries. This is when barefoot running began. Researchers later concluded shoes were not to blame and that barefoot running could cause multiple other problems.

New Theories

As stated before, since excessive pronation and high impact forces have not been definitively proven to prevent injury, there is now a newly proposed theory of addressing injury prevention.  They are the preferred movement path and comfort filter.

The preferred movement path, which basically keeps the skeleton in the line of movement with minimal muscle use and the comfort filter (individual feeling) are going to be investigated. No more mention of alignment and pronation control because they can’t prove it!

The author that proposes such admits that both need “Substantial” research, verification and quantification.

Another idea is adding guide posts in shoes. Let’s just guide the foot a little and treat everyone the same way!  Another example is cushioning.  Cushioning can help some, yet, research has shown that too much can cause increased forces due to increased muscle activation and stiffing of the foot as it hits the ground.

Best Way to Avoid Injury? Common Sense!

Control of motion certainly does change the movement path. If the body likes the adjustment, it will result in a more comfortable, smoother run.  However, nobody really knows.

So, what can you do to prevent injury?  Be aware of research results but keep with common sense!  I believe alignment does matter. A car cannot operate without ideal balance and alignment.  Our bodies are like a car in the sense we move more efficiently with ideal balance and alignment.


Most studies were done on runners, so addressing such results to the average Joe the Plumber is not suitable.  Many people have and do benefit from appropriate shoes and foot orthotics.  Also, Born to Run? I think not! Not the way running is today.  Not everyone is built for continuous running.  Many of the studies completed, only research runners. Therefore, what they conclude or prove to be beneficial or not beneficial may not have the same effect on someone whose main goal is to walk without pain.