How do runners choose their footwear?

Runners' choice of footwear is not all about brand and comfort - but there is still a need for further research into how footwear choice might help prevent injury.

There is a belief that running injury is caused by not matching foot posture to footwear type. Related to this is an assumption that expensive shoes are more capable of preventing injury than less expensive shoes. Empirical evidence fails to support such beliefs - much of the research is questionnaire-based and therefore limited by the questions asked. 

Principal Lecturer Codi Ramsey's PhD research investigated the factors influencing runners' choices of footwear. She conducted interviews with 12 people who were running more than 30 km per week. Themes were developed from transcripts of the runners' interviews using thematic analysis. The findings revealed 15 unique factors that influence runner’s choices of footwear for running. These factors were grouped into three main themes: 

  • Economic considerations: Runners were conscious of both personal and social costs associated with footwear, for example the ethics of manufacture.
  • Other people: Runners value the opinions of people they trust and admire. This group of factors includes the past experiences of their former selves.
  • Personal preferences: After taking into account the above factors, it was runners' shoe preference that drove their final decisions.

The runners interviews reported that choosing footwear is complex because of the wide range available. They had strong brand affiliation but were frustrated by the footwear industry regularly changing what is available. Once the links between footwear and running related injuries are better understood, this research will help develop effective injury prevention strategies through informing runners' choice of footwear. 

July 2022