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Effect of Cushioned Insoles on Impact Forces During Running

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  • 1 Sports Rehabilitation Clinic, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison.
  • | 2 Department of Special Education, Green Bay Public School District, Green Bay, WI.
  • | 3 Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, Division of Physical Therapy, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison.
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Background: The use of cushioned or shock-absorbing insoles has been suggested as a mechanism to reduce the impact forces associated with running, thereby protecting against overuse injuries. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the use of cushioned insoles reduced impact forces during running in healthy subjects.

Methods: Sixteen recreational runners (9 females and 7 males) ran at a self-selected pace for five trials with and without the use of cushioned insoles. During each trial, ground reaction forces, tibial accelerations, lower-extremity kinematics, and subject-perceived comfort were recorded. All variables were tested with the level of statistical significance set at α = .05.

Results: The use of cushioned insoles resulted in significant reductions in mean vertical ground reaction force peak impact (6.8%) and ground reaction force loading rate (8.3%), as well as peak tibial acceleration (15.8%). Spectral analysis of the tibial acceleration data in the frequency range associated with impact accelerations (12–25 Hz) revealed no change in the predominant frequency or the power of the predominant frequency. The knee flexion angle at initial contact and perceived comfort were similar for the two conditions.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates the effectiveness of one type of cushioned insole in reducing peak impact force and tibial acceleration at initial foot-ground contact during running. The impact reduction observed was independent of knee kinematic adjustments or changes in perceived comfort. Further study is required to determine whether the reduction in loading that accompanied the use of the cushioned insoles can affect the incidence of running-related injuries. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 98(1): 36–41, 2008)

Corresponding author: Bryan Heiderscheit, PT, PhD, Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, Division of Physical Therapy, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, 1300 University Ave, MSC 4120, Madison, WI 53706-1532. (E-mail: heider@surgery.wisc.edu)