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“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!

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit petermlarson.com.

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.

  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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