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Running Barefoot Helps Reduce Stress On Knee Joints

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Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is a condition that sports medicine professionals encounter frequently. Simply put, patellofemoral pain is pain concentrated around the front of the knee and it is commonly referred to as “runner´s knee.” It is believed that increased patellofemoral joint stress facilitates the development and progression of PFPS and Australian researchers have concluded that running barefoot reduces that stress.

Led by Dr Jason Bonacci of Geelong-based Deakin University, the research team set out to establish whether running barefoot was better for reducing patellofemoral joint stress compared to running in shoes. The findings of their study have been published in the current issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Patellofemoral pain is a common thread running through this issue of the journal.

For the purposes of their study, the Australian researchers selected 22 trained runners. These subjects were the source of data on lower extremity kinematics and ground reaction force, with one set of information gathered while they ran barefoot and the other comprising data collected during sessions that involved neutral running shoes.

When the results for barefoot and shod running were compared, it was established that the former resulted in a 12% reduction in peak patellofemoral joint stress. The researchers said in their report that this was attributable to reduced patellofemoral joint reaction forces associated with running barefoot.

In their concluding remarks, the researchers noted that patellofemoral pain could be the result of higher patellofemoral joint stress caused by wearing shoes while running. This stress is reduced when runners go without shoes.