I know it is only a pilot study, but …. injuries in minimalist runners

You know its never going to be a very good day when you check your alerts over breakfast and this turns up:

Self-Reported Minimalist Running Injury Incidence and Severity: A Pilot Study
Katrina Ostermann, DO; Lance Ridpath, MS; Jandy B. Hanna, PhD
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, August 2016, Vol. 116, 512-520. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2016.104
Introduction: Minimalist running entails using shoes with a flexible thin sole and is popular in the United States. Existing literature disagrees over whether minimalist running shoes (MRS) improve perceived severity of injuries associated with running in traditional running shoes (TRS). Additionally, the perceived injury patterns associated with MRS are relatively unknown.
Objectives: To examine whether injury incidence and severity (ie, degree of pain) by body region change after switching to MRS, and to determine if transition times affect injury incidences or severity with MRS.
Methods: Runners who were either current or previous users of MRS were recruited to complete an Internet-based survey regarding self-reported injury before switching to MRS and whether self-reported pain from that injury decreased after switching. Questions regarding whether new injuries developed in respondents after switching to MRS were also included. Analyses were calculated using t tests, Wilcoxon signed rank tests, and Fischer exact tests.
Results: Forty-seven runners completed the survey, and 16 respondents reported injuries before switching to MRS. Among these respondents, pain resulting from injuries of the feet (P=.03) and knees (P=.01) decreased. Eighteen respondents (38.3%) indicated they sustained new injuries after switching to MRS, but the severity of these did not differ significantly from no injury. Neither time allowed for transition to MRS nor use or disuse of a stretching routine during this period was correlated with an increase in the incidence or severity of injuries.
Conclusion: After switching to MRS, respondents perceived an improvement in foot and knee injuries. Additionally, respondents using MRS reported an injury rate of 38.3%, compared with the approximately 64% that the literature reports among TRS users. Future studies should be expanded to determine the full extent of the differences in injury patterns between MRS and TRS.

I know that this was only a pilot study, but…
1. “Minimalist running … is popular in the United States“. Actually its not popular; sales of minimalist running shoes at the run specialty level have now fallen so low that they “barely register” in the sales figures any more.

2. It is a self-selected internet based survey –> never going to get any good data that way (the reasons why are well documented and many studies have shown the biased populations that respond to online surveys; here is the Wikipedia entry on self-selection bias)

3. Cherry picking at its worst: “approximately 64% that the literature reports among TRS users” –> that is not remotely close to being true! One study reported that. I wonder why they did not quote the study that put it at 20%? Or the group of studies that put it around 40%? (about the same they got in the above study!).

How did it get through the editorial and peer review process? The particular journal does not have an impact factor, which might explain it.

As always, I go where the evidence takes me until convinced otherwise ….and there is no evidence here, except perhaps another fail from the journal concerned. Its not the first time I called out their editorial and peer review process.

Ostermann, K., Ridpath, L., & Hanna, J. (2016). Self-Reported Minimalist Running Injury Incidence and Severity: A Pilot Study The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 116 (8) DOI: 10.7556/jaoa.2016.104

© Authory 2022. All rights reserved.