Modern Footwear May Put Joints at Risk of Osteoarthritis

Walking barefoot reduces load on the joints

FRIDAY, Sept. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Modern footwear may put people at risk of developing osteoarthritis because of the increased load on lower extremity joints, according to a study published in the September issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Najia Shakoor, M.D., and Joel A. Block, M.D., of Rush Medical College in Chicago, analyzed the gait of 75 subjects with knee osteoarthritis while they were wearing their normal walking shoes and while they walked barefoot. The tests included a comparison of gait parameters and joint loading.

When the subjects walked barefoot, there was an 11.9 percent reduction in the knee adduction moment and a significant decrease in peak joint loads at the hips and knees. The study also noted other changes between walking wearing shoes compared with walking barefoot, including the stride, cadence and range of motion at the lower extremity joints. However, these changes did not explain the reduced peak loads during barefoot walking.

"Shoes may detrimentally increase loads on the lower extremity joints," the authors conclude. "Once factors responsible for the differences in loads between with-shoe and barefoot walking are better delineated, modern shoes and walking practices may need to be reevaluated with regard to their effects on the prevalence and progression of osteoarthritis in our society."

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