Running shoes increase Achilles tendon load in walking : an acoustic propagation study

Wearing, Scott C., Reed, Lloyd, Hooper, Sue L., Bartold, Simon, Smeathers, James E., & Brauner, Torsten (2014) Running shoes increase Achilles tendon load in walking : an acoustic propagation study. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 46(8), pp. 1604-1609.

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Background: Footwear remains a prime candidate for the prevention and rehabilitation of Achilles tendinopathy as it is thought to decrease tension in the tendon through elevation of the heel. However, evidence for this effect is equivocal.

Purpose: This study used an acoustic transmission technique to investigate the effect of running shoes on Achilles tendon loading during barefoot and shod walking.

Methods: Acoustic velocity was measured in the Achilles tendon of twelve recreationally–active males (age, 31±9 years; height, 1.78±0.06 m; weight, 81.0±16.9 kg) during barefoot and shod walking at matched self–selected speed (3.4±0.7 km/h). Standard running shoes incorporating a 10– mm heel offset were used. Vertical ground reaction force and spatiotemporal parameters were determined with an instrumented treadmill. Axial acoustic velocity in the Achilles tendon was measured using a custom built ultrasonic device. All data were acquired at a rate of 100 Hz during 10s of steady–state walking. Statistical comparisons between barefoot and shod conditions were made using paired t–tests and repeated measure ANOVAs.

Results: Acoustic velocity in the Achilles tendon was highly reproducible and was typified by two maxima (P1, P2) and minima (M1, M2) during walking. Footwear resulted in a significant increase in step length, stance duration and peak vertical ground reaction force compared to barefoot walking. Peak acoustic velocity in the Achilles tendon (P1, P2) was significantly higher with running shoes.

Conclusions: Peak acoustic velocity in the Achilles tendon was higher with footwear, suggesting that standard running shoes with a 10–mm heel offset increase tensile load in the Achilles tendon. Although further research is required, these findings question the therapeutic role of standard running shoes in Achilles tendinopathy.

Impact and interest:

3 citations in Scopus
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3 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 78118
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Soft tissue, Quantitative Ultrasound, Speed of Sound, Footwear, Achilles Tendon, Acoustic Propagation
DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000256
ISSN: 0195-9131
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Clinical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 American College of Sports Medicine
Copyright Statement: This is a non-final version of an article published in final form in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
August 2014 - Volume 46 - Issue 8 - p 1604–1609
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000256
Deposited On: 05 Nov 2014 23:43
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015 13:21

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