J. Strang, M. DeAvilla, C. Pope, J. Silver, A. Tallon, C. Conti, K. Witzke, FACSM, C. Pollard

Oregon State University- Cascades, Bend, OR

Maximal running shoes have recently become popular among recreational runners. While numerous studies have investigated the influence of minimal and neutral running shoes on lower extremity biomechanics, little is known about the biomechanical influences of maximal running shoes. PURPOSE: To examine the influence of maximal running shoes on lower extremity biomechanics as compared to more traditional neutral running shoes. METHODS: Subjects consisted of recreational runners (18 females and 8 males) who were 18-45 years of age. All subjects ran at least 10 miles per week and had only run in neutral running shoes for the 6 months prior to testing. Three-dimensional kinematics (8-camera motion-capture system, 250 Hz) and ground reaction forces (force plate, 1500 Hz) were collected while subjects ran along a 10 meter runway at 3.35 m/s ± 0.17m/s. Subjects performed four successful running trials for two different shoe conditions (neutral shoe and maximal shoe). 3D software was used to quantify lower extremity kinematics. Variables of interest included peak vertical ground reaction force (VGRF), peak hip flexion, peak knee flexion, and peak eversion across stance. Differences between shoe conditions were examined using dependent t-tests, P ≤ 0.05. RESULTS: Subjects exhibited increased hip flexion and knee flexion when running in the maximal shoe compared to the neutral shoe (hip flexion: 33.2º vs. 31.6º (P=0.05); knee flexion: 40.3º vs. 39.0º (P=0.03)). There were no significant differences in peak eversion or peak VGRF between shoe conditions. CONCLUSION: Recreational runners exhibited different lower extremity biomechanics when running in a maximal running shoe versus a traditional neutral shoe. We did not find a reduction in the peak VGRF under the maximal shoe condition even though we had hypothesized that the increase in midsole cushioning provided by a maximal shoe would reduce the peak VGRF. However, we did find an increase in sagittal plane kinematics at the hip and knee joints which suggests that the maximal shoe may be promoting use of the sagittal plane musculature. Further study is required to better understand running biomechanics in the maximal running shoe across various running populations.

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