Footwear Matters: Influence of Footwear and Foot Strike on Load Rates during Running

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Abstract

Introduction

Running with a forefoot strike (FFS) pattern has been suggested to reduce the risk of overuse running injuries, due to a reduced vertical load rate compared with rearfoot strike (RFS) running. However, resultant load rate has been reported to be similar between foot strikes when running in traditional shoes, leading to questions regarding the value of running with a FFS. The influence of minimal footwear on the resultant load rate has not been considered. This study aimed to compare component and resultant instantaneous loading rate (ILR) between runners with different foot strike patterns in their habitual footwear conditions.

Methods

Twenty-nine injury-free participants (22 men, seven women) ran at 3.13 m·s−1 along a 30-m runway, with their habitual foot strike and footwear condition. Ground reaction force data were collected. Peak ILR values were compared between three conditions; those who habitually run with an RFS in standard shoes, with an FFS in standard shoes, and with an FFS in minimal shoes.

Results

Peak resultant, vertical, lateral, and medial ILR were lower (P < 0.001) when running in minimal shoes with an FFS than in standard shoes with either foot strike. When running with an FFS, peak posterior ILR were lower (P < 0.001) in minimal than standard shoes.

Conclusions

When running in a standard shoe, peak resultant and component ILR were similar between footstrike patterns. However, load rates were lower when running in minimal shoes with a FFS, compared with running in standard shoes with either foot strike. Therefore, it appears that footwear alters the load rates during running, even with similar foot strike patterns.

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