Sports Medicine Research: In the Lab & In the Field: Running Fatigue Exacerbates Plantar Pressures (Sports Med Res)
Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Running Fatigue Exacerbates Plantar Pressures

Effects of running-induced fatigue on plantar pressure distribution in novice runners with different foot types

Anbarian, M & Esmaeili H.  Gait & Posture. 2016; 48: 52-56. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2016.04.029
           
Take Home Message: A fatigue running protocol caused increases in forefoot push-off time in all participants, but caused increases in different foot regions based on arch height.

Running is a common form of physical activity that has largely positive effects, but due to the repetitive motions it can result in injury.  The question remains what role does fatigue play in injury and how might an individual’s foot structure relate to fatigue and injury.  The researcher of this study investigated the effects of fatigue on plantar pressure among 42 novice runners with bilateral high or low medial longitudinal arch height. The authors defined arch height based on an arch ratio; which they calculated as the height of the arch divided by the length from the heel to 1st metatarsophalangeal joint (high arch > 0.365, low arch < 0.275).  Plantar pressure measures during a barefoot run were taken before and after a fatigue running task.  The running protocol involved walking with increases in speed every 2 minutes until a Borg intensity of 13 was reached. They then continued to run at that speed until 80% maximum heart rate or Borg intensity of 17 was reached.  People with low arches experienced an increase in maximum pressure and peak force under the first, second, and third metatarsals post fatigue. In contrast, runners with high arches had an increase in maximum pressure and peak force at the lateral heel and in the fourth and fifth metatarsal areas.  Both group had shorter initial contact time and increased forefoot push off time post-fatigue.

These findings are interesting because it shows that a fatigue running protocol affects novice runners with either high or low arches.  All runners had increases in forefoot push-off time, while the groups had different changes in maximum pressure and peak force at different regions of the foot.  High and low arch individuals are susceptible to different overuse running-related injuries.  Hence, fatigue may exacerbate gait mechanics that further increases the risk of injury.  It would be interesting to see if certain exercises or running cues could mitigate the changes after a running fatigue.  The participants in this study all wore the same sneaker for the running protocol.  It would also be interesting to see if shoe selection could affect the fatigue that occurred.  There has also been research regarding barefoot or minimalist footwear training.  It would be interesting to see if this type of running or training would have a different effect on fatigue changes.  Clinically, both groups were affected by a running protocol – but with very different changes.  It is important to treat each of these groups differently in regards to rehabilitative exercise selection or preventative orthoses to try to prevent overuse injuries related to their specific fatigue patterns and running.

Questions for Discussion:  What has your experience been with minimalist training?  What types of exercises have you found to be successful for preventing fatigue related injuries with running?

Written by: Nicole Cattano
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban

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Anbarian, M., & Esmaeili, H. (2016). Effects of running-induced fatigue on plantar pressure distribution in novice runners with different foot types Gait & Posture, 48, 52-56 DOI: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2016.04.029

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