Last week I wrote:
When I read things like this……I roll my eyes. Not because there is anything wrong with the publication; it is just the heat and vitriol that I and others were subjected to over the years by the fan boy haters for pointing out what the overwhelming preponderance of evidence is continuing to show. Their propaganda and rhetoric is still not supported.
Following on from that is this new study:
Redistribution of Mechanical Work at the Knee and Ankle Joints During Fast Running in Minimalist Shoes
Joel T. Fuller; Jonathan D. Buckley; Margarita D. Tsiros; Nicholas A. T. Brown; Dominic Thewlis,
Journal of Athletic Training In-Press.
Context: Minimalist shoes have been suggested as a way to alter running biomechanics to improve running performance and reduce injuries. However, to date, researchers have only considered the effect of minimalist shoes at slow running speeds.
Objective: To determine if runners change foot-strike pattern and alter the distribution of mechanical work at the knee and ankle joints when running at a fast speed in minimalist shoes compared with conventional running shoes.
Design: Crossover study.
Setting: Research laboratory.
Patients or Other Participants: Twenty-six trained runners (age = 30.0 ± 7.9 years [age range, 18−40 years], height = 1.79 ± 0.06 m, mass = 75.3 ± 8.2 kg, weekly training distance = 27 ± 15 km) who ran with a habitual rearfoot foot-strike pattern and had no experience running in minimalist shoes.
Intervention(s): Participants completed overground running trials at 18 km/h in minimalist and conventional shoes.
Main Outcome Measure(s): Sagittal-plane kinematics and joint work at the knee and ankle joints were computed using 3-dimensional kinematic and ground reaction force data. Foot-strike pattern was classified as rearfoot, midfoot, or forefoot strike based on strike index and ankle angle at initial contact.
Results: We observed no difference in foot-strike classification between shoes (χ21 = 2.29, P = .13). Ankle angle at initial contact was less (2.46° versus 7.43°; t25 = 3.34, P = .003) and strike index was greater (35.97% versus 29.04%; t25 = 2.38, P = .03) when running in minimalist shoes compared with conventional shoes. We observed greater negative (52.87 J versus 42.46 J; t24 = 2.29, P = .03) and positive work (68.91 J versus 59.08 J; t24 = 2.65, P = .01) at the ankle but less negative (59.01 J versus 67.02 J; t24 = 2.25, P = .03) and positive work (40.37 J versus 47.09 J; t24 = 2.11, P = .046) at the knee with minimalist shoes compared with conventional shoes.
Conclusions: Running in minimalist shoes at a fast speed caused a redistribution of work from the knee to the ankle joint. This finding suggests that runners changing from conventional to minimalist shoes for short-distance races could be at an increased risk of ankle and calf injuries but a reduced risk of knee injuries.
Nothing in the methods or analysis jumps out at me as being problematic, except that this was an acute intervention and the subjects were not habituated to the conditions that they were tested in. The authors conclusion is worth repeating as it is clearly what the overwhelming preponderance of evidence is showing:
Running in minimalist shoes at a fast speed caused a redistribution of work from the knee to the ankle joint. This finding suggests that runners changing from conventional to minimalist shoes for short-distance races could be at an increased risk of ankle and calf injuries but a reduced risk of knee injuries.
Regular readers of this blog know what is coming next: Different running techniques and different running shoes load different tissues differently in different runners.
As always, I go where the evidence takes me until convinced otherwise …. and the evidence continues to show that there are no systematic benefits of one way to run over another.
Fuller, J., Buckley, J., Tsiros, M., Brown, N., & Thewlis, D. (2016). Redistribution of Mechanical Work at the Knee and Ankle Joints During Fast Running in Minimalist Shoes Journal of Athletic Training DOI: 10.4085/1062-6050-51.12.05