Running with modern-day running shoes leads to greater joint twisting in the hips than running barefoot does, according to new research that could have implications for the development of not only hip osteoarthritis but lower back pain in such recreational runners.
As detailed in the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation journal PM&R, researchers were surprised to learn that running with modern-day running shoes caused a disproportionately large, 54% increase in internal hip rotation torque (twisting) when compared to running barefoot.
In this study, researchers used three-dimensional peak imaging to examine the effects of running shoes and running barefoot on 68 recreational runners who ran at least 15 miles per week.
Markers were placed on the hip, knee and ankle joints of the runners as they ran on a treadmill barefoot or with running shoes, thus allowing the researchers to see how the joints were affected by these different running approaches.
According to the study’s findings, running with modern-day running shoes caused increases in not only internal hip rotation torque but knee flexion torque (36% increase) and knee varus torque (38% increase) when compared to running without shoes.
While not suggesting that runners run in their bare feet, the researchers noted the importance of using shoes that are most comfortable to the runner, especially when considering that greater joint strain could make the hip, knee and ankle joints more susceptible to osteoarthritis.
Marked by a breakdown of cartilage in the hip joints, hip osteoarthritis can cause not only hip pain and hip motion limitations but back pain and leg pain that may necessitate hip replacement surgery in some cases.
To better protect the joints when running or walking on a daily basis, patients are advised to wear shoes that provide stability, flexibility and comfort; to engage in proper form that incorporates not only the hips but the head, shoulders, abdominal muscles, arms, hands and feet; and to keep other guidelines in mind.