Fancy sports shoes likely to damage knees, hips, ankles

Although running is known to confer cardiovascular and other health benefits, it can increase stress on leg joints, which can be particularly severe for the elderly. Knee osteoarthritis accounts for more disability among them than any other disease.
Accordingly, researchers led by D. Casey Kerrigan, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, University of Virginia (U-V), compared the effects on knee, hip and ankle joint motions of running barefoot versus running in modern running shoes.
They concluded that running shoes exerted more stress on these joints compared to running barefoot or walking in high-heeled shoes.
Sixty-eight healthy young adult runners including 37 women, who rely on typical running shoes, were selected from the general population. None had any history of musculo-skeletal injury and each ran at least 24 km every week.
A running shoe, selected for its neutral classification and design characteristics typical of most running footwear, was provided to all runners.
Using a treadmill and a motion analysis system, each subject was observed running barefoot and with shoes. Data were collected at each runner's comfortable running pace after a warm-up period, said a U-W release.
The researchers observed increased joint torques at the hip, knee and ankle with running shoes compared with running barefoot. Joint torques are a product of muscle tension.
These findings confirm that while the typical construction of modern-day running shoes provides good support and protection for the foot itself, one negative effect is the increased stress on each of the three lower extremity joints.
These findings appeared in PM&R: The journal of injury, function and rehabilitation.

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