“Research Isn’t Everything…” – Great Post By Physiotherapist Tom Goom

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years it’s that both research and individual experience (yes, anecdotal evidence!) can be equally valuable sources of information when attempting to make decisions about which type of shoe to wear, whether or not to change your running form, which training methods to employ, etc. In fact, I’ve written about the topic a number of times, both on this blog and in my book.

I wanted to take a moment to point you to a great post by physiotherapist Tom Goom titled “Research isn’t everything…” Like me, Tom sees value in scientific research, but also realizes that research studies can often have major limitations, one of which is that they often favor group mean responses over individual responses. Tom realizes that if a particular treatment method (e.g., icing) continually shows beneficial results for some subset of his patients, he’s not going to abandon it simply because research results are inconclusive.

Here’s an excerpt where Tom shares a bit of his point of view on the subject:

“Research is part of our reasoning process, not the entirety of it. Experience and individual circumstances make up much of our decision making process. So ice may not have great research but I’ve seen it work for hundreds of people so I will continue to recommend it. Warm-up may not have concrete evidence to show it reduces injury risk but I feel a whole lot more comfortable running if I’ve warmed up properly so I’ll keep doing it. The literature on running shoes might be inconclusive but when a patient presents with plantar fasciitis and can’t even walk barefoot I won’t be telling them to run barefoot!”

Very well-stated!

In much the same way, there was no chance I was going to stop any of the runner’s at mile 50 of the VT100 ultra this weekend (I crewed a friend) and tell them that the Hoka One One shoes they were wearing might be a bad idea since there is no scientific evidence showing that they provide any benefit in an ultra! If anything, I left the race really curious to finally give the ultra-cushioned shoes a try myself given how many of the faster runners had them on (and yes, I have video!). These people have done ridiculous amounts of mileage, probably in a variety of shoes, and they know what works best for their bodies in various circumstances.

Head over to Tom’s RunningPhysio blog to read the full article, as well as his follow-up post titled “Oops I opened a can of worms!

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.



Comments

  1. Simple but great post…

    I’m one of those people who are trying Hokas despite the lack of scientific evidence (and after much resistance)

    It took about 5 runs before my feet got used to them (weird hot spots – toe blisters) but found a good lacing pattern and now use them on any long/super-long run.

    Why? Because I’m nowhere nearly as sore the next day.

    Who knows, maybe one day there will be a study to tell me why they work for me. Until then, they are a part of a rotation that includes some bare feet, some “minimal shoes” and anything else that works.

    • Pete Larson says:

      With shoes, I really believe it’s all about experimenting and finding what works for you. Where research comes in is to tell us that much of the “conventional wisdom” about how to fit runners to shoes is no better than random assignment.

      —-
      Pete Larson’s Web Links:
      My book: Tread Lightly – link to ow.ly
      Work: link to anselm.edu
      Blog: http://www.runblogger.com
      Dailymile Profile: link to dailymile.com
      Twitter: link to twitter.com

    • Im really keen to try out the Hokas myself after hearing so many good reviews from people who wear them. Admitedly they seem to fly in the face of the ‘conventional wisdom’ amougst the minimalist crowd, but then again, i dont think they should be put into the same category as ‘conventional shoes’

      • Pete Larson says:

        Paul,

        My buddy who ran the VT 100 ran the first 50 or so miles in them, and he essentially refuses to wear anything with more than a 4mm drop. Switched into the Brooks Grits after as he thought the Hokas may have been taxing his quads too much. He let me try them and they do feel pretty flat despite the huge cushion. Kind of a weird experience running in them, but not hard to maintain form, and certainly forgiving when your form breaks down as it likely will in an ultra!

        —-
        Pete Larson’s Web Links:
        My book: Tread Lightly – link to ow.ly
        Work: link to anselm.edu
        Blog: http://www.runblogger.com
        Dailymile Profile: link to dailymile.com
        Twitter: link to twitter.com

  2. cody r. says:

    i agree with everything, especially with the plantar fasciitis, walking barefoot doesn’t fix it, but it does help rehab it, a lot of people have things mixed up, you have to let it heal a bit first, and stimulate it a bit at a time…

    also adding, like running barefoot, although it doesn’t have a huge amount of scientific evidence for it, especially not against it, but hello, we weren’t born with shoes, that’s how we were meant to operate, without getting into the whole shoe thing

    just my little input

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