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The Preferred Movement Path Paradigm: Influence of Running Shoes on Joint Movement

NIGG, BENNO M.; VIENNEAU, JORDYN; SMITH, AIMÉE C.; TRUDEAU, MATTHIEU B.; MOHR, MAURICE; NIGG, SANDRO R.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: August 2017 - Volume 49 - Issue 8 - p 1641–1648
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001260
Applied Sciences

Purpose: (A) To quantify differences in lower extremity joint kinematics for groups of runners subjected to different running footwear conditions, and (B) to quantify differences in lower extremity joint kinematics on an individual basis for runners subjected to different running footwear conditions.

Methods: Three-dimensional ankle and knee joint kinematics were collected for 35 heel–toe runners when wearing three different running shoes and when running barefoot. Absolute mean differences in ankle and knee joint kinematics were computed between running shoe conditions. The percentage of individual runners who displayed differences below a 2°, 3°, and 5° threshold were also calculated.

Results: The results indicate that the mean kinematics of the ankle and knee joints were similar between running shoe conditions. Aside from ankle dorsiflexion and knee flexion, the percentage of runners maintaining their movement path between running shoes (i.e., less than 3°) was in the order of magnitude of about 80% to 100%. Many runners showed ankle and knee joint kinematics that differed between a conventional running shoe and barefoot by more than 3°, especially for ankle dorsiflexion and knee flexion.

Conclusions: Many runners stay in the same movement path (the preferred movement path) when running in various different footwear conditions. The percentage of runners maintaining their preferred movement path depends on the magnitude of the change introduced by the footwear condition.

Human Performance Laboratory, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, CANADA

Address for correspondence: Benno M. Nigg, Human Performance Laboratory, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4; E-mail: nigg@ucalgary.ca.

Submitted for publication July 2016.

Accepted for publication March 2017.

© 2017 American College of Sports Medicine