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Close to Barefoot Best for Arthritic Knees
Date:11/9/2007

Study yields surprising results on what footwear works best

FRIDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Sore, arthritic knees may do better with flip-flops and flexible walking shoes than with other types of footwear, new research suggests.

In fact, the closer to barefoot, the better for the knees, the study finds.

"The main finding of the study is that footwear not only affects your feet but can affect other joints at your lower extremity, in particular the amount of load your knees experience when you walk," said lead researcher Dr. Najia Shakoor, an assistant professor of internal medicine at Rush University Medical College in Chicago.

Her team was to present the findings Thursday at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting in Boston.

Previous research by Shakoor and her team suggested that walking barefoot was associated with lower load on the knees compared to walking with normal walking shoes.

A team of researchers at Rush performed gait analysis on 13 men and three women with osteoarthritis of the knee as they walked barefoot and then with two stability shoes (Dansko clogs and Brooks Addiction shoes), flip-flops and flexible walking shoes (Puma H-Street).

Right now, experts typically recommend stability shoes as supportive, stable and comfortable walking shoes.

A standard measure of load on the knee, using percent body weight times height, was assessed at normal walking speed.

The researchers found that the stability shoes were associated with significantly increased load on the knees compared to barefoot walking. Flip-flops, flexible walking shoes and barefoot walking all put a similar load on the knees.

Shakoor cautioned, "We are not advocating flip-flops. Flip-flops can be associated with other foot problems such as plantar faciitis and are probably not appropriate footwear for older individuals because of their increased association with fal
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