The athletics shoe technology is among the fast-changing technologies of the world. A lot of the changes occurring in the field are augmented by the intensive research and interests to the field of athletics. As a result, the diversity in the manufacture and use of athletics shoes is inevitably notable in the present system. According to Karen (110), the choice for the right athletics shoes determines the level of comfort that an athlete derives while on the tracks and consequently, the ability to win a race easily. In relation to these, factors such as cushioning, persons’ stability, control of the athletes’ motions and other conditioning needs are available for consideration for various kinds of athletics needs. Awareness of the current trends of the running shoes is an important aspect for athletes currently. Some of the basic and most used running shoe trends include the toning shoes, minimalistic running technologies and barefoot running mechanisms.
Sports medicine podiatrists seek to advise their clients on the best choice for athletics shoes that would allow them to achieve maximum performance while minimizing the risks of injuries. Moreover, forming an integral component of the running shoes is their biomechanical, anatomical and the appropriateness of the shoes to the right kind of the sporting event selected. The sporting fraternity and the sports persons must consider all these matters as well. Due to these, there have emerged different kinds of running shoes available in the market currently. The athletes must be aware of the right shoes suitable for various field events. In relation to these, this paper will help the concerned athletes to determine the best designs of the athletics shoes suitable for their bodies.
The biomechanics of running is a branch of sporting science that has received great attention in the recent past. The aspects of the biomechanics of running looks at bodily movements during running and how these factors affect the athletes’ performance in the races. The biomechanics studies of running help to develop the understanding of the structure, functioning and the capability of the runners’ lower extremities and their overall kinetics chains that allow them to run. Different runners possess different anatomical structures, strengths and proprioceptive qualities. However, many similarities define different individuals every person’s running cycle (known as the gait cycle). Knowledge of these areas helps to diagnose and treat different types of injuries that occur during running. The overall gait cycle (walking and running) is composed of the stance and the swing phases. However, the running cycle is unique to the walking cycle since it includes an additional phase, the float phase occurring twice in the persons during running (often between the stance and the swing phases). At the float phase, the lower extremities are not in contact with the ground (David and Terry, 189).
During running, the stance and the swing phases are greater than 50% thus allowing for the float phases to be created in between the swing and the stance phases. The float phase is characterized by a period in which both the legs are not in contact with the ground. As the athletes’ strides, running cadence and the lengths of steps made continue to increase over time, the velocity at running and the ground reactions also continue to increase. These changes, occurring during running, increases the lower extremities to great pressure thereby increasing the possibilities of injuries or risks of the same. Moreover, the increase in the speed of running also narrows the base of the support. As a result, the foot strikes are higher on the centreline of progression. Great motion, rapid contraction of the eccentric muscles and hip rotation along the transverse planes of the body occur during running and which must be controlled sufficiently during running to avoid risks of injuries (David and Terry, 191).
The impacts of the shoes lacing on the ability of the runners to achieve ease and comfort during running have been investigated in various researches to outline the possible solutions to enable athletes to improve their performance with ease. Mathematically, the best, strongest and most commonly used lacing technique is the X-lacing. According to Marco and Ewald (270), the athletic footwear construction requires substantial inter-individual variability to suite the average foot morphology. Good shoe fits enable homogenous distribution of pressure throughout the dorsum of the foot. As a result, comfort should be developed. On most occasions, the shoe lacing techniques used currently have straight eyelets in the line. On most occasions, running shoes are constructed to have a higher seventh eyelet with a slight shift to the lateral sides. Many runners, however, do not utilize the seventh lateral eyelet. Research has proven that shoe-lacing conditions have a strong influence upon the foot-shoe coupling during running.
Marco and Ewald’s research indicated that tighter coupling at the eyelet 7 and the stronger lacing at eyelet 6 make better use of the running mechanistic such as cushioning properties. Marco and Ewald (267- 273) found out that the tightest eyelet (eyelet 6) and the highest lacing condition (eyelet 7) are responsible for pressing the heels into the shoes’ heel counter thus increasing the coupling process occurring between the foot and the shoes. This helps to lower the loading rates and reduces the peak pressures occurring under the heels of the athletes. These two lacing conditions indicate better shoe cushioning during running at the rear of the shoes. By these, the conditions promote pronation of velocity of the athletes during running. Marco and Ewald’s study concluded that the shoes lacing patterns influences foot movements during the heel-toe running. In compliance with these observations, Marco, and Ewald (273) recommends that shoe lacing patterns must be considered while undertaking an analysis about the running shoes’ biomechanics. According to Marco and Ewald reducing the pronation velocities and shocks requires that the runners use strongly laced or tightly laced shoes (eyelet 6 and 7 respectively).
During gaits, about 60-80% of the intrinsic compressive load is often transmitted through the knee. In relation to these, the alignment of the knee influences the distribution of the load largely. For instance, in the bow-legged persons (varus knee), the axis of the load is shifted to one side making the medial compartments of the leg to experience great pressure. On the other hand, the valgus-kneed persons (people with knock-knees) express increased stress on their lateral compartments. These effects have often led to the knee osteoarthritis in many athletes, a fact that has affected the athletic career of many athletes around the globe (Mølgaard and Kersting 1). The foot wedges have shown credible results regarding their potential to reduce pains as well as the knee loads by distributing the load evenly across the knee point (Mølgaard and Kersting 1). The design of the shoes used to run affects the loading of the knee largely. In addition, the shoe designs have no tangible effects on the lateral wedges. About 100 of lateral wedge have been found to reduce the peak knee abduction moments significantly during running (Mølgaard and Kersting 1).
During running, the lateral position of the shoe soles is brought into contact with the ground at an angle of about 5-100. Experimental research has proven that hard heel flares lead to the increment of the lever just about the subtalar joints. These increments lead to increase in the initial aversion velocity (known as the maximum velocity). During running, the effects of the heel flare are substantially high during the touchdown phase and tend to be smaller during the maximum eversion phase (Mølgaard and Kersting 1). At the stance phase, the everting movement occurring at the calcaneus are usually transmitted to the tibia bones because of the coupling mechanisms, consequently evoking tibial rotations. The tibial rotation is, in addition, depended, on the eversion force of the feet, the integrity of the ligaments, the vertical force, the forces of the muscle tendons and the planner dorsiflexion. The effects of the shoe sole can be seen in its influence upon the foot during movement as well as the axial orientation of the runners’ subtalar joint axis. These effects can be felt during movement by changing the coupling movements occurring on the ankle joint complex. As a result, these effects impact upon the tibial rotations thereby resulting in the increase in the amount of load that occur at the knees during movement. Further, Mølgaard and Kersting found out that there is a relationship between the eversion of the foot and the eversion of the bone. These findings are consistent with the fact that small and unsystematic impacts of the shoe sole upon the tibiocalcaneal movements
Different types of athletics shoes exist and have received tremendous modifications by the athletics shoe manufacturing companies to suite the increasing demands of runners all over the world. The conventional running shoes are far different from the minimalistic shoes based on a number of factors such as the designs of the shoes, weights, and other related factors. The conventional running shoes are made specifically for purposes of athletics and are designed to enable the athletes to achieve the best results they desire with as minimum effort as possible. In a broader perspective, the amount of efforts put into the race using the minimalistic shoes and the conventional shoes differ significantly owing to the differences in the shoe design compositions and structural components. Minimalistic shoes are a category of shoes that have unique characteristics that make them suitable for running exercises a great deal. These characteristics include less weight, less cushioning effects and less structured compared to the common conventional shoes (Stacoff 316). These shoes are flexible, light, as well as have a minimal restriction on the motions of the foot occurring within the shoes during the running process. Additionally, Stacoff (317) highlights that minimalistic shoes are also less elevated compared to the conventional shoes. These characteristics make the minimalistic shoes closer to bear foot running. Stacoff research indicates minimalistic shoes weighing 2.2 – 9.9 oz. with midsoles of thicknesses ranging between 4 – 20 mm
To conclude, the science of running has received tremendous attention over the recent past as human knowledge and interests in running and athletics continue to increase over time. Due to these, tremendous research has been established to help develop running mechanisms that affect the way athletes perform while on track and reduces the minimum efforts needed to achieve their best. These factors are often studied in the branch of athletics science referred to as the biomechanics of running. Biomechanics of running looks into various aspects of running and the bodily organizations during running. Further, these studies help to develop the understanding of how the body structure affects the athletes’ performances on the tracks. Further, studies in biomechanics have helped the manufacturers of various kinds of shoes to develop shoes designs that reduce the efforts required to perform in the field. Such shoes area modification from the normal conventional shoes and are referred to as the minimalistic shoes.
Alex Stacoff et al. “Effects of shoe sole construction on skeletal motion during running.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise· March 2001. DOI: 10.1097/00005768-200102000-00022
Carsten M. Mølgaard and Uwe G. Kersting. “The effects of shoe design and lateral wedging on knee loading.” 2016. Web. 1 May 2016. Electronic. <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268350130>.
Hagen, Marco, and Hennig, Ewald M. “Effects of different shoe-lacing patterns on the biomechanics of running shoes.” Journal of Sports Sciences, 27:3 (2009): 267 — 275. DOI: 10.1080/02640410802482425. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02640410802482425
Karen, Langone, A., How to Evaluate and Recommend Athletic Shoes: AAPSM reviews the latest in athletic footwear. USA: American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, October 2010. Electronic. <www.podiatrym.com>.
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