, Volume 113, Issue 8, pp 2077-2090
Date: 14 Apr 2013

Impact reduction through long-term intervention in recreational runners: midfoot strike pattern versus low-drop/low-heel height footwear

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Abstract

Impact reduction has become a factor of interest in the prevention of running-related injuries such as stress fractures. Currently, the midfoot strike pattern (MFS) is thought as a potential way to decrease impact. The purpose was to test the effects of two long-term interventions aiming to reduce impact during running via a transition to an MFS: a foot strike retraining versus a low-drop/low-heel height footwear. Thirty rearfoot strikers were randomly assigned to two experimental groups (SHOES and TRAIN). SHOES progressively wore low-drop/low-heel height shoes and TRAIN progressively adopted an MFS, over a 3-month period with three 30-min running sessions per week. Measurement sessions (pre-training, 1, 2 and 3 months) were performed during which subjects were equipped with three accelerometers on the shin, heel and metatarsals, and ran for 15 min on an instrumented treadmill. Synchronized acceleration and vertical ground reaction force signals were recorded. Peak heel acceleration was significantly lower as compared to pre-training for SHOES (−33.5 ± 12.8 % at 2 months and −25.3 ± 18.8 % at 3 months, p < 0.001), and so was shock propagation velocity (−12.1 ± 9.3 %, p < 0.001 at 2 months and −11.3 ± 4.6 %, p < 0.05 at 3 months). No change was observed for TRAIN. Important inter-individual variations were noted in both groups and reported pains were mainly located at the shin and calf. Although it induced reversible pains, low-drop/low-heel height footwear seemed to be more effective than foot strike retraining to attenuate heel impact in the long term.

Communicated by Jean-René Lacour.