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Effect of Footwear Modifications on Oscillations at the Achilles Tendon during Running on a Treadmill and Over Ground: A Cross-Sectional Study

Ilka Meinert, Niklas Brown, Wilfried Alt
PloS One 2016, 11 (3): e0152435
27010929

BACKGROUND: Achilles tendon injuries are known to commonly occur in runners. During running repeated impacts are transferred in axial direction along the lower leg, therefore possibly affecting the oscillation behavior of the Achilles tendon. The purpose of the present study was to explore the effects of different footwear modifications and different ground conditions (over ground versus treadmill) on oscillations at the Achilles tendon.

METHODS: Oscillations were measured in 20 male runners using two tri-axial accelerometers. Participants ran in three different shoe types on a treadmill and over ground. Data analysis was limited to stance phase and performed in time and frequency space. Statistical comparison was conducted between oscillations in vertical and horizontal direction, between running shoes and between ground conditions (treadmill versus over ground running).

RESULTS: Differences in the oscillation behavior could be detected between measurement directions with peak accelerations in the vertical being lower than those in the horizontal direction, p < 0.01. Peak accelerations occurred earlier at the distal accelerometer than at the proximal one, p < 0.01. Average normalized power differed between running shoes (p < 0.01) with harder damping material resulting in higher power values. Little to no power attenuation was found between the two accelerometers. Oscillation behavior of the Achilles tendon is not influenced by ground condition.

CONCLUSION: Differences in shoe configurations may lead to variations in running technique and impact forces and therefore result in alterations of the vibration behavior at the Achilles tendon. The absence of power attenuation may have been caused by either a short distance between the two accelerometers or high stiffness of the tendon. High stiffness of the tendon will lead to complete transmission of the signal along the Achilles tendon and therefore no attenuation occurs.

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