Biomechanics of running with rocker shoes
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OBJECTIVES: Load reduction is an important consideration in conservative management of tendon overuse injuries such as Achilles tendinopathy. Previous research has shown that the use of rocker shoes can reduce the positive ankle power and plantar flexion moment which might help in unloading the Achilles tendon. Despite this promising implication of rocker shoes, the effects on hip and knee biomechanics remain unclear. Moreover, the effect of wearing rocker shoes on different running strike types is unexplored. The aim of this study was to investigate biomechanics of the ankle, knee and hip joints and the role of strike type on these outcomes. DESIGN: Randomized cross-over study. METHODS: In this study, 16 female endurance runners underwent three-dimensional gait analysis wearing rocker shoes and standard shoes. We examined work, moments, and angles of the ankle, knee and hip during the stance phase of running. RESULTS: In comparison with standard shoes, running with rocker shoes significantly (p<0.001) reduced the positive (16%), and negative (32%) work at the ankle joint. Plantar flexion moment peak and impulse were also reduced by 11% and 12%, respectively. Reduction in these variables was almost two times larger for midfoot strikers than for rearfoot strikers. At the knee joint running with rocker shoes significantly increased the positive work (14%), extension moment peak (6%), and extension moment impulse (12%). CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that although running with rocker shoes might lower mechanical load on the Achilles tendon, it could increase the risk of overuse injuries of the knee joint.
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