European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 113, Issue 8, pp 2077–2090 | Cite as

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

  • Marlène GiandoliniEmail author
  • Nicolas Horvais
  • Yohann Farges
  • Pierre Samozino
  • Jean-Benoît Morin
Original Article


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.


Running pattern Impact Midfoot strike Footwear Retraining 



Body weight


Maximal vertical ground reaction force


Step frequency


Magnitude of impact force peak


Vertical mean loading rate


Midfoot strike


Peak heel acceleration


Peak metatarsal acceleration


Peak tibial acceleration


Preferred running speed


Rearfoot strike


Shock propagation velocity between heel and tibia


Contact time


Aerial time


Time to impact peak


Time between heel and metatarsals peak accelerations


Vertical ground reaction force



We are grateful to Drs. Pascal Edouard, Jean-Claude Chatard, Amaury Mazet, and David Hupin, from the Service de Physiologie Clinique, Médecine du Sport—Myologie, CHU Bellevue, Saint-Etienne for their help in the inclusion sessions and medical follow-up of the study. Salomon SAS supported this study through an MSc studentship grant allocated to Marlène Giandolini.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marlène Giandolini
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
    Email author
  • Nicolas Horvais
    • 3
  • Yohann Farges
    • 3
  • Pierre Samozino
    • 4
  • Jean-Benoît Morin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of LyonSaint EtienneFrance
  2. 2.Laboratory of Exercise Physiology (EA4338)Saint-EtienneFrance
  3. 3.Salomon SAS, Amer Sports Footwear Laboratory of Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology, Les CroiseletsAnnecy Cedex 9France
  4. 4.Laboratory of Exercise Physiology (EA4338)University of SavoieLe Bourget-du-LacFrance
  5. 5.Laboratoire de Physiologie de l’Exercice (EA4338)Université de Saint-Etienne, Médecine du Sport-Myologie, CHU BellevueSaint-Etienne Cedex 2France

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