Running is a very common form of exercise and sport for people of all ages, and many runners often wonder if it is helpful to wear shoes to damp the collision impact during running or amplify it to increase its benefits?
It is recognized that physical activity has a beneficial effect on bone mineral density (BMD). Sports associated with high strains (e.g. weight lifting, running) exhibit a higher total BMD than those with low strains (e.g. water-polo, bicycling). Therefore it stands to reason that increasing the amplitude of collision impact may help to further development of BMD during running. On the other hand, higher collision shocks traditionally viewed as a harmful effect that may trigger musculoskeletal pain. Therefore the potential benefit of the amplitude of collision impact during running is highly debated between shoes makers as well as researchers active in this area.
In a recent study published in the journal of Applied Physiology, the researchers from the Scholl Center for Lower Extremity Center (North Chicago, USA) with collaboration of five other centers in Switzerland shed light on potential benefits of the amplitude of collision impact during running. In this interdisciplinary and prospective study, the volumetric BMD of 81 runners including 16 sedentary runners (running less than 5km per week), 19 medium runners (running between 5-30km/week), and 29 advanced runners (running more than 50km per week) were measured in three consecutive years. Using a novel tool based on body worn sensor technology, the amplitude of the collision impact was measured at baseline and follow-up measurements. The results suggest that although the amplitude of the collision impact could be beneficial in improving BMD in those runners who ran more than 30km per week, this amplitude could be harmful for sedentary runners. This interesting result may suggest that the design of shoes for moderating the impact of collision shoes should be adjusted based on the running distance to increase the benefit of running or reduce its potentially negative impact.