CHICAGO Flip-flops and sneakers with flexible soles are easier on the knees than clogs or even special walking shoes, a study by Rush University Medical Center has found. And that's important, because loading on the knee joints is a key factor in the development of osteoarthritis.
The study has been published online in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
"Traditionally, footwear has been engineered to provide maximum support and comfort for the foot, with little attention paid to the biomechanical effects on the rest of the leg," said Dr. Najia Shakoor, a rheumatologist at Rush and the primary author of the study. "But the shoes we wear have a substantial impact on the load on the knee joints, particularly when we walk."
"Our study demonstrated that flat, flexible footwear significantly reduces the load on the knee joints compared with supportive, stable shoes with less flexible soles."
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and a significant source of disability and impaired quality of life. A higher-than-normal load on the knees during walking is a hallmark of the disease, associated with both the severity of osteoarthritis and its progression.
Shakoor and her colleagues analyzed the gait of 31 patients with symptoms of osteoarthritis in the Rush Motion Analysis Lab while they walked barefoot and with four popular shoe types: Dansko clogs, which are often worn by healthcare professionals who have to be on their feet much of the day; Brooks Addiction stability shoes, which are prescribed for foot comfort and stability; Puma H-Street shoes, a flat athletic shoe with flexible soles; and flip-flops.
The loads on the knee joints differed significantly depending on the footwear. For the clogs and stability shoes, the loads on the knee joints were up to 15 percent greater than with the flat walking shoes, flip-flops or barefoot walking. Knee loading was roughly the same whether the s
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Rush University Medical Center