Novice runners wearing ordinary, non-supportive running shoes are at no greater risk of injury, even if they pronate or supinate (that is, their feet roll inward or outward as they run) according to new research out of Aarhus University in Denmark. The researchers think that novice runners should instead think about their weight, training regime and old injuries as the predominate risks of injury.

PhD student Rasmus Ø. Nielsen and team tracked the progress of 927 healthy beginners for a full year. The group contained a variety of pronators and supinators, and all wore identical pairs of "neutral" running shoes. At the end of the year, 252 of the participants had sustained a running-related injury. The researchers concluded that after running the first 250 km, the risk of injury to runners is the same, regardless of pronation or supination. Further, the incidence rate of injury in pronating runners was markedly lower per 1,000 km run in pronators than in so-called neutrals.

"This is a controversial finding as it has been assumed for many years that it is injurious to run in shoes without the necessary support if you over/underpronate," Nielsen says.

What the research did not do was compare neutral running shoes with those which provide support to runners who have a tendency to roll their feet. They also did not tackle the question of whether supportive shoes should be used following a running injury.

"We still need to research the extent to which feet with extreme pronation are subject to a greater risk of running injury than feet with normal pronation," Nielsen added. The sample group turned out to contain fewer extreme pronators that was expected for its size.