Effects of a leaf spring structured midsole on joint mechanics and lower limb muscle forces in running

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Abstract

To enhance running performance in heel-toe running, a leaf spring structured midsole shoe (LEAF) has recently been introduced. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of a LEAF compared to a standard foam midsole shoe (FOAM) on joint mechanics and lower limb muscle forces in overground running. Nine male long-distance heel strike runners ran on an indoor track at 3.0 ± 0.2 m/s with LEAF and FOAM shoes. Running kinematics and kinetics were recorded during the stance phase. Absorbed and generated energy (negative and positive work) of the hip, knee and ankle joint as well as muscle forces of selected lower limb muscles were determined using a musculoskeletal model. A significant reduction in energy absorption at the hip joint as well as energy generation at the ankle joint was found for LEAF compared to FOAM. The mean lower limb muscle forces of the m. soleus, m. gastrocnemius lateralis and m. gastrocnemius medialis were significantly reduced for LEAF compared to FOAM. Furthermore, m. biceps femoris showed a trend of reduction in running with LEAF. The remaining lower limb muscles analyzed (m. gluteus maximus, m. rectus femoris, m. vastus medialis, m. vastus lateralis, m. tibialis anterior) did not reveal significant differences between the shoe conditions. The findings of this study indicate that LEAF positively influenced the energy balance in running by reducing lower limb muscle forces compared to FOAM. In this way, LEAF could contribute to an overall increased running performance in heel-toe running.

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Wunsch, T., Alexander, N., Kröll, J., Stöggl, T., & Schwameder, H. (2017). Effects of a leaf spring structured midsole on joint mechanics and lower limb muscle forces in running. PLoS ONE, 12(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0172287

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