For many years, U.S. Army soldiers performed physical training (PT) in a modified duty uniform and combat boots. The belief that PT in combat boots was associated with injuries lead to the introduction of running shoes for PT in 1982. A historical comparison was conducted examining injuries before and after the change to running shoes in Basic Combat Training (BCT). Searches in literature databases and other sources identified 16 studies with quantitative data on injury incidence during 8-week BCT cycles. Employing studies with similar injury definitions (n = 12), injury incidence was compared in the boot and running shoe periods using meta-analyses, χ(2) statistics, and risk ratios (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs). The boot and shoe periods demonstrated little difference in overall injury incidence (men: RR[boot/shoes] = 1.04, 95% CI = 0.91-1.18, p = 0.50; women: RR = 0.94, 95% CI = 0.85-1.05, p = 0.27) or in lower extremity injury incidence (men: RR[boot/shoes] = 0.91, 95% CI = 0.64-1.30, p = 0.66; women: RR = 1.06, 95% CI = 0.89-1.27, p = 0.51). These analyses provided little support for a reduction in injury risk after the switch from boots to running shoes for PT in BCT. A large randomized, prospective cohort study should be conducted to determine if injury rates are different when PT is conducted in running shoes versus boots.
Reprint & Copyright © 2015 Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S.