Running Shoes: Bad for your Knees?

February 4th, 2010 | Sources: BurrillReport, PM&R

Running in commercially-available athletic footware puts more stress on the hip, knee and ankle joints than running barefoot, according to a new study. In fact, a good jog in those designer statements puts more stress on your joints than a walk in high-heeled shoes.
Badforyourhealth?To determine the effect of modern-day running shoes on lower extremity joint torques during running, D. Casey Kerrigan and colleagues from JKM Technologies and the University of Virginia recruited 68 healthy young adult runners (37 women) that used commercially-available running shoes.
Subjects had no history of musculoskeletal injury and ran at least 15 miles per week.

Running shoes with typical design characteristics were provided to all subjects. The subjects ran barefoot and with the shoes. Running speed was controlled by the scientists.

Kerrigan’s team analyzed their subjects’ strides using three-dimensional motion capture and ground reaction force with a tricked-out treadmill.
The team found that running shoes increased joint torques at the hip, knee and ankle compared with bare feet. In fact, the shoes were associated with a 54% increase in hip internal rotation torque, a 36% increase in knee flexion torque, and a 38% increase in knee varus torque.

The team also found that running shoes caused pronounced stress at anatomical sites of the knee that are prone to the development of osteoarthritis.

They speculated that their findings were caused by the elevated heel and the padding under the medial arch which are typical of modern running shoes. They also acknowledge that running shoes provide good support and protection for the foot itself.

Reducing joint torques with footwear to that of barefoot running, while providing meaningful footwear functions should be the goal of new footwear designs,” the authors wrote.

The write-up appears in PM&R.


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