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2020 - Dhillon

Objectives: There is a gap in research exploring perceptions of runners and healthcare professionals (HCPs) about running footwear and injury risk. The objectives of this study were: (1) to document factors considered by runners when selecting footwear; (2) to compare perceptions on footwear and injury risk in runners and HCPs; and (3) to evaluate the perceived usefulness of an online educational module.

Methods: Using an online survey, we collected information on demographics and perceptions about footwear and injury risk. Runners reported their footwear selection strategy, and HCPs their typical recommendations. An evidence-based educational module was presented, and participants rated its usefulness.

Results: The survey was completed by 2442 participants, of which 1035 completed the optional postmodule questions. Runners reported relying mostly on comfort and advice from retailers when selecting shoes. Perceptions regarding the effects of specific footwear types (minimalist, maximalist), characteristics (softness, drop) and selection strategy (foot type, transition) on biomechanics and injury risk were different between HCPs and runners. Overall, runners perceived footwear as more important to prevent injury than did HCPs (7.6/10, 99% CI 7.4 to 7.7 vs 6.2/10, 99% CI 6.0 to 6.5; p<0.001). Both runners (8.1/10, 99% CI 7.9 to 8.3) and HCPs (8.7/10, 99% CI 8.6 to 8.9) found the educational module useful. A majority of respondents indicated the module changed their perceptions.

Conclusion: Footwear is perceived as important in reducing running injury risk. This online module was deemed useful in educating about footwear evidence. Future studies should evaluate if changes in perceptions can translate to behaviour change and, ultimately, reduced injury risk.

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