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Effect on Injuries of Assigning Shoes Based on Foot Shape in Air Force Basic Training

      Background

      This study examined whether assigning running shoes based on the shape of the bottom of the foot (plantar surface) influenced injury risk in Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT) and examined risk factors for injury in BMT.

      Methods

      Data were collected from BMT recruits during 2007; analysis took place during 2008. After foot examinations, recruits were randomly consigned to either an experimental group (E, n=1042 men, 375 women) or a control group (C, n=913 men, 346 women). Experimental group recruits were assigned motion control, stability, or cushioned shoes for plantar shapes indicative of low, medium, or high arches, respectively. Control group recruits received a stability shoe regardless of plantar shape. Injuries during BMT were determined from outpatient visits provided from the Defense Medical Surveillance System. Other injury risk factors (fitness, smoking, physical activity, prior injury, menstrual history, and demographics) were obtained from a questionnaire, existing databases, or BMT units.

      Results

      Multivariate Cox regression controlling for other risk factors showed little difference in injury risk between the groups among men (hazard ratio [E/C]=1.11, 95% CI=0.89–1.38) or women (hazard ratio [E/C]=1.20, 95% CI= 0.90–1.60). Independent injury risk factors among both men and women included low aerobic fitness and cigarette smoking.

      Conclusions

      This prospective study demonstrated that assigning running shoes based on the shape of the plantar surface had little influence on injury risk in BMT even after controlling for other injury risk factors.
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