Dr. Craig Richards is an Australian medical doctor and international expert in the relationship between running injuries, running technique and shoe design. Dr. Richards runs the Hunter Gait Rehabilitation Clinic for chronically injured runners and a footwear design consultancy as well as being an active researcher at the University of Newcastle. He is co-author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Barefoot Running and co-developer of the concept barefoot running shoe, the Barefoot on Grass.
In the 1990s, Dr. Richards was himself a chronically injured runner despite moderate mileage, “good shoes” and normal biomechanics. He was faced with two choices- either accept that his body was not designed for running, or lay the blame on his shoes for disrupting his natural running mechanics. Dr. Richards tested his hypothesis by learning to run without shoes and his injuries resolved. He then asked the obvious question: “Is it just me that is adversely affected by these shoes?” This led him to examine the evidence for the use of standard running shoes with their heel elevation, thick cushioned soles and pronation control systems tailored to foot type. In 2008, he reported the findings in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in a paper entitled, ” Is Your Prescription of Distance Running Shoes Evidence-based?” The results were astounding — there was not a single study reported in the scientific literature which had attempted to measure the effects of this shoe type on either injury rates or running performance. Currently. Dr. Richards is undertaking a series of clinical trials to begin the long task of determining the “safest” or “best” running shoe.
Dr. Richards is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board at the Natural Running Center.
Things are certainly starting to hot up in our quest to find the World’s Best Running Shoe. This can be a game changer for the footwear industry. Runners have never asked for data on how a shoe is likely to affect their performance or injury risk because it has never existed.