J.J. Hannigan PhD, ATC, CSCS*, Christine D. Pollard, PhD, PT

A recent study suggested that maximal running shoes may increase the impact force and loading rate of the vertical ground-reaction force during running. It is currently unknown whether runners will adapt to decrease the impact force and loading rate over time.

Purpose:

To compare the vertical ground-reaction force and ankle kinematics between maximal and traditional shoes before and after a 6-week acclimation period to the maximal shoe.

Study Design:

Controlled laboratory study.

Methods:

Participants ran in a traditional running shoe and a maximal running shoe during 2 testing sessions 6 weeks apart. During each session, 3-dimensional kinematics and kinetics were collected during overground running. Variables of interest included the loading rate, impact peak, and active peak of the vertical ground-reaction force, as well as eversion and dorsiflexion kinematics. Two-way repeated measures analyses of variance compared data within participants.

Results:

No significant differences were observed in any biomechanical variable between time points. The loading rate and impact peak were higher in the maximal shoe. Runners were still everted at toe-off and landed with less dorsiflexion, on average, in the maximal shoe.

Conclusion:

Greater loading rates and impact forces were previously found in maximal running shoes, which may indicate an increased risk of injury. The eversion mechanics observed in the maximal shoes may also increase the risk of injury. A 6-week transition to maximal shoes did not significantly change any of these measures.

Clinical Relevance:

Maximal running shoes are becoming very popular and may be considered a treatment option for some injuries. The biomechanical results of this study do not support the use of maximal running shoes. However, the effect of these shoes on pain and injury rates is unknown.

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