Anybody who had to run with shoes that don’t fit can attest how importance it is to get comfortable shoes. A simple discomfort can rapidly turn into a cause for withdrawal, or at least for changing the gait. But how do you measure “comfort”? This is a very subjective, not easy to evaluate. Meyer et al (2018) investigated the influence of perceived footwear comfort on the variability of running kinematics as a potential alternative for a proxy of comfort. Two sets of measures were collected whilst 36 athletes ran in two condistions. The first time they ran 200m on an indoor track to assess shoes covered with a neutral black fabric and rated their perceived comfort of the respective shoe using a 10 cm visual analogue scale (a sort of Borg scale). During the second 200m an objective tri-axial inertial measurement unit was used to record objectively the kinematics of the gait and its variability. Five different running shoe conditions were used (Glide, Adizero, Brooks, Sequence, Adipure). The results show that lower footwear comfort was associated with lower kinematic variability especially in the second half of the swing phase but only for variables that are not directly linked to the forward propulsion during running. So the perception of comfortable leads to some changes in gait, and this may lead in turn either to improved gait, or potentially to injuries. Therefore a) don’t ignore how comfortable are your running shows, b) maybe the inertial measurement unit can become a surrogate to the elusive “perception of comfort”.
Christian Meyer, Maurice Mohr, Mathieu Falbriard, Sandro R. Nigg & Benno M. Nigg (2018) Influence of footwear comfort on the variability of running kinematics, Footwear Science, 10:1, 29-38