We found this interview timely. Dr. Adam Tenforde has done research on CFP shoes. He suggests that, like all running shoes, CFP shoes are equipment, and the body must be given time to get used to the effects and added stress on the body. 

In new research recently published in Sports MedicineDr. Adam Tenforde, leading sports medicine physician at Massachusetts General Brigham, suggests that carbon-plated running shoes – the shoes that nearly every elite runner and most everyday runners use today – may be causing an increase in bone stress injuries.

Dr. Adam Tenforde, photo from Mass Bringham Hospital

Dr. Tenforde, Director of running medicine at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, one of the only centers in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of running-related injuries, and Associate Professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, studied 5 elite runners and found that all of them developed acute pain, later diagnosed as navicular bone stress injuries (BSI), during or after running exclusively in carbon fiber-plated shoes.

Here is the link to the MGB press release: https://www.massgeneralbrigham.org/en/about/newsroom/press-releases/bone-stress-injuries-after-using-carbon-fiber-plate-footwear

And here is the full research paper: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-023-01818-z

Five Questions with Dr. Adam Tenforde on Carbon Plated running shoes.

RunBlogRun, # 1. After your research, would you recommend that young athletes, those with active growth plates, use carbon plated running shoes?

Dr. Tenforde: it’s unknown how these shoes may affect growth plates for young athletes. In general, any change in footwear should be done gradually with monitoring for the development of pain to suggest injury. There’s no clear evidence on how these new shoes may influence the risk of injury in a developing athlete.

RunBlogRun, # 2. How do carbon-plated running shoes both benefit and harm the athlete?

Dr. Tenforde: The overall research supports the use of CFP shoes to improve performance during running events. Anecdotally, regular use during training may result in running at faster speeds and potentially recovering from training bouts. However, risks with the use of novel footwear, including CFP shoes, include changes in running biomechanics both from shoes and behaviors around footwear that could place runners at elevated risk for injury.

RunBlogRun, # 3. Is there a safe way to use these new shoes for race and speed days and a more supportive shoe for recovery days?

Dr. Tenforde: As with any change in footwear, the gradual integration of CFP shoes into training would be advised (such as performing portions of a training session in the shoe) and ensuring runners have used the shoes prior to use during a competition

RunBlogRun, # 4. What would you tell coaches and trainers to watch out for with carbon-plated running shoes?

Dr. Tenforde: As with most aspects of running, gradually incorporating the footwear into training and competition while advising runners to communicate if they are experiencing any new pain. Pain that worsens with running or is localized to bone should be further evaluated for bone stress injury (stress reaction or stress fracture) based on our report.

RunBlogRun, #5: Anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Tenforde:  We anticipate the use of CFP shoes will continue to grow, along with a desire for footwear companies to modify this footwear. Providing time for musculoskeletal adaptation and following the common recommendations to “listen to your body” should help runners enjoy the benefits while minimizing risks with changes in footwear.