University of Newcastle researchers are lining up eleven of the world’s most innovative running shoe designs to compete in a world-first project testing safety and performance.

With the help of 2,000 Australian runners, the University will assess the running shoes over a 12 month period to determine the safest and fastest designs.

Research project leader, Dr Craig Richards, said that runners are becoming increasingly scientifically astute with regard to their running shoe choices.

“In the past, runners have been content to purchase shoes designed to prevent injury and improve performance – but now they are demanding shoes actually proven to deliver these benefits,” said Dr Richards.

“None of the running shoe manufacturers currently provide injury prevention and performance data for their shoes and, as a result, both consumers and health care professionals are currently in the dark as to which shoes they should choose,” he said.

“There has been so little objective testing of running shoes to date that not even experts in the field can tell you which running shoe designs are the best. Even the effects of basic differences in cushioning and heel height on injury rates and performance remain unknown.”

“There is an overwhelming need to establish a systematic testing and ratings system for running shoes similar to existing ANCAP safety ratings for cars. This research is the first step towards achieving this goal.”

The research program will be testing shoes from nine different manufacturers ranging from barefoot style shoes to ultra-cushioned models. Now the research team is calling on volunteers to test the shoes, by participating in the study.

“We need 2,000 altruistic Aussie runners to test one shoe model each for 12 months. The University will supply participants with their shoes at cost price, giving runners the opportunity to try some of the world’s most innovative running shoe designs at greatly reduced cost at the same time helping fellow runners to choose the right pair of shoes.”

If you run regularly and are interested in taking part in this research project, please visit here. Expressions of interest from shoe manufacturers wishing to submit their shoes for future rounds of testing are also being sought.

HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.