Background: A suggested link between ambulatory mechanics and injury development has resulted in significant interest the development of footwear to change locomotion patterns. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that there will be significant changes in the kinematics and kinetics at the ankle and minimal changes at the knee and hip in the mechanics of running in a shoe with a sagittal plane curvature relative to a flat soled shoe.
Methods: During running 3-D lower extremity kinematics and kinetics for 19 healthy volunteers were quantified using an optoelectronics system and a force plate. Data were collected for a flat sole conventional shoe (New Balance 658 (Control)) and a shoe with a rounded sole in the sagittal plane (Masai Barefoot Technologies (MBT)). Data were compared for the two shoe conditions using paired Student t-tests (alpha=0.05).
Findings: The ankle dorsi-flexion angles at heel-strike and mid-stance were greater, while the ankle plantar and dorsi-flexion moments and peak ankle joint power were significantly lower with the MBT relative to the control (P<0.05). Decreases in the first medial GRF peak and the peak anterior GRF peak were also found for running in the MBT shoe.
Interpretation: Despite a major difference in sole geometry, accommodations to the rockered sole were found only at the ankle. These results suggest changes in ankle kinematics and kinetics may be used to minimize the effect of changes in sole rocker on limb dynamics. Thus, changes in shoe rocker may offer potential therapeutic opportunities for running related conditions at the ankle without substantial risk to the knee or hip.