Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Study Affects Design Of Running Shoes

Scientists in a new study published in the Journal of Royal Society Interface have found how foot muscles support the arch of the foot, findings that can drastically change how running shoes are designed.
The study was led by The University of Queensland and the findings can also impact treatment of foot conditions, design of prosthetics and robot limbs, and improve understanding how humans were able to walk and run efficiently on two feet. 
Dr. Glen Lichtwark at UQ's School of Human Movement Studies said the importance of muscles moving in a person's leg was well-known, but muscles in the foot had not been as well studied.
"Ligaments in the foot have generally been regarded as the main support for the foot arch, which helps us walk and run by acting as a spring," Lichtwark said. 
"As you compress the arch it stretches the bottom of the arch and that causes some tension in the ligaments that store elastic energy, which can be released when you push off.
"Anatomical research suggests that muscles in the feet may also be important in supporting the arch of the foot as well and we were really interested in whether or not these muscles have any capacity to assist this function of the foot," he said. 
Two experiments were conducted to investigate the how muscles in the foot work. The first experiment required seated participants to have a weight applied to their knee while the researchers used needle electrodes to study activation of foot muscles. 
"We found that after a certain amount of force was applied, these muscles started to activate and the more weight we applied, the more the muscles turned on," said Lichtwark. 
In the second experiment, the researchers electrically stimulated foot muscles under different loads. 
"We found that as the muscles were stimulated, they caused the arch of the foot to rise, actively supporting the arch," Lichtwark said. "The muscles were basically acting as a parallel support to the ligaments, effectively stiffening the foot."
Researchers believe their findings have large implications for the design of running shoes.
"Running shoes should be designed to complement the function of the muscles rather than work against them," Lichtwark said. 
"Because we think these muscles respond to how much load you put on them, if you put in some kind of cushioning effect on one side of the foot for instance, then that might slow the response of these muscles in being able to adjust to different surfaces or uneven terrain," he added. 
Reference: Z News
If you are a runner with a foot or ankle problem, call our Rocky Hill or Middletown office to make an appointment.
Jeffrey S. Kahn, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Sports Medicine Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Rocky Hill and Middletown, CT
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