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Orthotic Comfort Is Related to Kinematics, Kinetics, and EMG in Recreational Runners


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: October 2003 - Volume 35 - Issue 10 - p 1710-1719
doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000089352.47259.CA

MÜNDERMANN, A., B. M. NIGG, R. N. HUMBLE, and D. J. STEFANYSHYN. Orthotic Comfort Is Related to Kinematics, Kinetics, and EMG in Recreational Runners. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 35, No. 10, pp. 1710–1719, 2003.

Purpose The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between differences in comfort and changes in lower extremity kinematic and kinetic variables and muscle activity in response to foot orthoses.

Methods Twenty-one recreational runners volunteered for this study. Three orthotic conditions (posting, custom-molding, and posting and custom-molding) were compared with a control (flat) insert. Lower extremity kinematic, kinetic, and EMG data were collected for 108 trials per subject and condition in nine sessions per subject for overground running at 4 m·s−1. Comfort for all orthotic conditions was assessed in each session using a visual analog scale. The statistical tests used included repeated measures ANOVA, linear regression analysis, and discriminant analysis (α = 0.05).

Results Comfort ratings were significantly different between orthotic conditions and the control condition ([lower, upper] confidence limits; posting: [−3.1, −0.8]; molding: [0.4, 3.4]; and posting and molding: [−1.1, 1.9]); 34.9% of differences in comfort were explained by changes in 15 kinematic, kinetic, and EMG variables. The 15 kinematic, kinetic, and EMG variables that partially explained differences in comfort classified 75.0% of cases correctly to the corresponding orthotic condition.

Discussion In general, comfort is an important and relevant feature of foot orthoses. Evaluations of foot orthoses using comfort do not only reflect subjective perceptions but also differences in functional biomechanical variables. Future research should focus on defining the relationship between comfort and biomechanical variables for material modifications of footwear, different modes of locomotion, and the general population.

1Human Performance Laboratory, Faculty of Kinesiology, and

2Division of Podiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, CANADA

Address for correspondence: Anne Mündermann, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Durand 205, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-3030; E-mail:

Submitted for publication September 2002.

Accepted for publication June 2003.

©2003The American College of Sports Medicine