Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
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©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine ( 2020 ) 19 , 20 - 37

Review article
Systematic Review of the Role of Footwear Constructions in Running Biomechanics: Implications for Running-Related Injury and Performance
Xiaole Sun1, Wing-Kai Lam2,3, Xini Zhang1, Junqing Wang1, Weijie Fu1,4, 
Author Information
1 School of Kinesiology, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai, China
2 Department of Kinesiology, Shenyang Sport University, Shenyang, China
3 Li Ning Sports Science Research Center, Beijing, China
4 Key Laboratory of Exercise and Health Sciences of Ministry of Education, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai, China

Weijie Fu
✉ School of Kinesiology, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai 200438, China
Email: fuweijie@sus.edu.cn
Publish Date
Received: 29-06-2019
Accepted: 22-10-2019
Published (online): 01-03-2020
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ABSTRACT

Although the role of shoe constructions on running injury and performance has been widely investigated, systematic reviews on the shoe construction effects on running biomechanics were rarely reported. Therefore, this review focuses on the relevant research studies examining the biomechanical effect of running shoe constructions on reducing running-related injury and optimising performance. Searches of five databases and Footwear Science from January 1994 to September 2018 for related biomechanical studies which investigated running footwear constructions yielded a total of 1260 articles. After duplications were removed and exclusion criteria applied to the titles, abstracts and full text, 63 studies remained and categorised into following constructions: (a) shoe lace, (b) midsole, (c) heel flare, (d) heel-toe drop, (e) minimalist shoes, (f) Masai Barefoot Technologies, (g) heel cup, (h) upper, and (i) bending stiffness. Some running shoe constructions positively affect athletic performance-related and injury-related variables: 1) increasing the stiffness of running shoes at the optimal range can benefit performance-related variables; 2) softer midsoles can reduce impact forces and loading rates; 3) thicker midsoles can provide better cushioning effects and attenuate shock during impacts but may also decrease plantar sensations of a foot; 4) minimalist shoes can improve running economy and increase the cross-sectional area and stiffness of Achilles tendon but it would increase the metatarsophalangeal and ankle joint loading compared to the conventional shoes. While shoe constructions can effectively influence running biomechanics, research on some constructions including shoe lace, heel flare, heel-toe drop, Masai Barefoot Technologies, heel cup, and upper requires further investigation before a viable scientific guideline can be made. Future research is also needed to develop standard testing protocols to determine the optimal stiffness, thickness, and heel–toe drop of running shoes to optimise performance-related variables and prevent running-related injuries.

Key words: Running shoes, cushioning, bending stiffness, impact force, comfort perception


           Key Points
  • Increasing the forefoot bending stiffness of running at the optimal range can benefit performance-related variables.
  • Softer or thicker midsoles can provide remarkable cushioning effects but may decrease plantar sensations at touchdown.
  • Minimalist shoes can improve running economy and build the cross-sectional area and stiffness of Achilles tendon but also induce greater loading of the ankle and metatarsophalangeal joint.
 
 
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