Background: Throughout the period of one year, approximately 50% of recreational runners will sustain an injury that disrupts their training regimen. Foot orthoses have been shown to be clinically effective in the prevention and treatment of several running-related conditions, yet the physical effect of this intervention during running remains poorly understood. The aim of this literature review was therefore to evaluate the effect of foot orthoses on lower extremity forces and pressure (kinetics) during running.
Methods: A systematic search of electronic databases including Medline (1966-present), CINAHL, SportDiscus, and The Cochrane Library occurred on 7 May 2008. Eligible articles were selected according to pre-determined criteria. Methodological quality was evaluated by use of the Quality Index as described by Downs & Black, followed by critical analysis according to outcome variables.
Results: The most widely reported kinetic outcomes were loading rate and impact force, however the effect of foot orthoses on these variables remains unclear. In contrast, current evidence suggests that a reduction in the rearfoot inversion moment is the most consistent kinetic effect of foot orthoses during running.
Conclusion: The findings of this review demonstrate systematic effects that may inform the direction of future research, as further evidence is required to define the mechanism of action of foot orthoses during running. Continuation of research in this field will enable targeting of design parameters towards biomechanical variables that are supported by evidence, and may lead to advancements in clinical efficacy.