Volume 5 Supplement 1

3rd Congress of the International Foot and Ankle Biomechanics Community

Open Access

Influence of variable stiffness shoes in sports performance and protection of lower extremity injury

  • Jee-Chin Teoh1,
  • Wen-Min Chen1 and
  • Taeyong Lee1
Journal of Foot and Ankle Research20125(Suppl 1):O50

DOI: 10.1186/1757-1146-5-S1-O50

Published: 10 April 2012

Background

Footwear is an effective biomechanical solution to lower extremity joint problems. Variable stiffness shoe (VSS) is designed. It has been proved to reduce knee internal abduction (external adduction) moment [1]. This helps to slow down progression of medial knee osteoarthritis (OA) [2]. However, there is no study on the effects of VSS on lower extremity during dynamic activities besides walking. Influence of VSS in sports performance is also yet to be examined. This study aims to investigate the biomechanical influence of VSS on lower extremity during dynamic activities and to assess the potential of VSS in improving sports performance.

Materials and methods

15 female and 15 male subjects walked in 2 conditions: VSS and Control. VSS had a lateral sole 1.6 times stiffer than medial (Figure 1). The optimized ratio was obtained from finite element analysis of a simplified 2D knee model. Control had uniform stiffness outsole.3D kinematic and kinetic analysis was conducted during walking, running, stop jumping and lateral hopping. Rating on footwear comfort was also performed.
Figure 1

Images of shoe bottom and shoe cross section showing lateral (L) and media (M) soles.

Results

Increased posterior force during running and stop jumping (Table 1) ensured controlled gait termination and reduced the risk of fall. Increased anterior force during walking and running (Table 1) increased forward propulsion and acceleration. Knee internal abduction moment was generally reduced (Table 1). This showed potential of VSS as sportswear that helped to relieve medial knee loading in more vigorous activities such as running, stopping and jumping. Kinetic data and comfort data showed that VSS did not change gait kinematics much. Rating differences were all insignificant (p<0.05). The stiffness variation in VSS was hardly noticeable. Shoe comfort was not compensated in VSS.
Table 1

Table compares only the averages of kinematics (angles) and kinetics (moments and forces) data that are statistically significant (p<0.05) during the dynamic activities.

Activity

Joint

Variable Name

Control

VSS

%difference

Walking

Knee

Max adduction moment (%BWxHt)

0.37

0.35

-5.994

Walking

 

Max anterior force at push off (%BW)

19.73

20.97

6.302

Running

Knee

Max adduction moment (%BWxHt)

1.04

0.88

-14.716

Running

 

Max posterior force (%BW)

-24.50

-28.93

18.072

Running

 

Max anterior force (%BW)

29.02

30.78

6.078

Stop Jumping

Knee

Max adduction moment (%BWxHt)

0.83

0.67

-18.661

Stop Jumping

 

Max posterior force (%BW)

-67.67

-73.33

8.373

Conclusion

The study demonstrated great potential of VSS in improving sports achievement and protecting knee. Outsole configuration can be further modified by varying outsole stiffness along anteroposterior axis for better performance and protection.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Division of Bioengineering, National University of Singapore

References

  1. Erhart JC, Mundermann A, Elspas B, et al: A variable-stiffness shoe lowers the knee adduction moment in subjects with symptoms of medial compartment knee osteoarthritis. J Biomech. 2008, 41: 2720-2725. 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2008.06.016.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Miyazaki T, Wada M, Kawahara H, et al: Dynamic load at baseline can predict radiographic disease progression in medial compartment knee osteoarthritis. Ann Rheum Dis. 2002, 61: 617-622. 10.1136/ard.61.7.617.PubMed CentralView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright

© Teoh et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2012

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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