Healthy living

Trainers cause more joint stress than barefoot running

Barefoot runners Lower joints most affected

If you've just splashed out on the latest running shoes, you may want to stop reading now. New research has found that running in trainers puts more stress on joints than running barefoot - in fact, it causes more joint stress than walking in high-heeled shoes!

Although running is regarded as being good for your heart and health overall, it is also known that it can increase stress on the different joints of the feet and legs.

In the study, US researchers compared how running affected the joints of 68 healthy adults wearing typical running shoes compared with going barefoot. All men and women regularly ran at least 15 miles a week, and were monitored running on a treadmill.

In adults who wore running shoes, the twisting force - or torque - exerted on the joints was increased by an average of 54% in the hip joint and 36% to 38% in the knee joint, compared with barefoot running.

The findings confirm past research which has shown that running shoes both protect and support the foot, the researchers said.

However, a "negative effect" of running shoes is the increased stress placed on the three lower extremity joints, likely due to the padding under the arch of the foot and the elevated heel, typically found in modern running shoes.

Dr. Casey Kerrigan, from the sports shoe company JKM Technologies, said: "Remarkably, the effect of running shoes on knee joint torques during running (36%-38% increase) that the authors observed here is even greater than the effect that was reported earlier of high-heeled shoes during walking (20%-26% increase).

"Considering that lower extremity joint loading is of a significantly greater magnitude during running than is experienced during walking, the current findings indeed represent substantial biomechanical changes."

Dr. Kerrigan concluded the ideal running shoe design should aim to reduce joint torque to that of barefoot running.

The results were published in the journal Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

This article was published on Tue 5 January 2010

Image © William Casey -

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