Relevance of frequency-domain analyses to relate shoe cushioning, ground impact forces and running injury risk: A secondary analysis of a randomized trial with 800+ recreational runners.
- Physical Activity, Sport and Health
- Human Motion, Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine and Digital Methods
Cushioning systems in running shoes are used assuming that ground impact forces relate to injury risk and that cushioning materials reduce these impact forces. In our recent trial, the more cushioned shoe version was associated with lower injury risk. However, vertical impact peak force was higher in participants with the Soft shoe version. The primary objective of this study was to investigate the effect of shoe cushioning on the time, magnitude and frequency characteristics of peak forces using frequency-domain analysis by comparing the two study groups from our recent trial (Hard and Soft shoe group, respectively). The secondary objective was to investigate if force characteristics are prospectively associated with the risk of running-related injury. This is a secondary analysis of a double-blinded randomized trial on shoe cushioning with a biomechanical running analysis at baseline and a 6-month follow-up on running exposure and injury. Participants (n = 848) were tested on an instrumented treadmill at their preferred running speed in their randomly allocated shoe condition. The vertical ground reaction force signal for each stance phase was decomposed into the frequency domain using the discrete Fourier transform. Both components were recomposed into the time domain using the inverse Fourier transform. An analysis of variance was used to compare force characteristics between the two study groups. Cox regression analysis was used to investigate the association between force characteristics and injury risk. Participants using the Soft shoes displayed lower impact peak force (p < 0.001, d = 0.23), longer time to peak force (p < 0.001, d = 0.25), and lower average loading rate (p < 0.001, d = 0.18) of the high frequency signal compared to those using the Hard shoes. Participants with low average and instantaneous loading rate of the high frequency signal had lower injury risk [Sub hazard rate ratio (SHR) = 0.49 and 0.55; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 0.25-0.97 and 0.30-0.99, respectively], and those with early occurrence of impact peak force (high frequency signal) had greater injury risk (SHR = 1.60; 95% CI = 1.05-2.53). Our findings may explain the protective effect of the Soft shoe version previously observed. The present study also demonstrates that frequency-domain analyses may provide clinically relevant impact force characteristics. Clinical Trial Registration: https://clinicaltrials.gov/, identifier: 9NCT03115437.