These researchers measured plantar pressure distribution through the midfoot, metatarsals and toes as recreational runners ran in 3 different footwear conditions: a control group wearing the flexible Nike Free Run and two experimental conditions in which carbon fiber plates of different thickness were embedded into the control shoe. The running shoes were classified as control, stiff, and stiffest, depending upon which carbon plates were added. Plantar pressure data was collected with 233 sensors embedded in each insole. Using this technology, pressure along the bottom of the foot was analyzed as runners ran over an instrumented treadmill. In each of the conditions, the addition of carbon plates in both the stiff and stiffest midsole significantly increased plantar pressures, especially in the heel, metatarsals, and toes. This research supports prior research by Tenforde et al. (1) showing that running shoes with embedded carbon plates increases the risk of navicular stress fractures. The authors state “Our results suggest that these injuries may be due to higher peak plantar pressures in the different foot regions.” For a full discussion of the popular running super shoes that are used by pretty much every professional distance runner now, see the article “How to Get the Most Out of the Latest Generation of Running Super Shoes” recently posted on the human locomotion site.
- Tenforde A, Hoenig T, Saxena A, Hollander K. Bone Stress Injuries in Runners Using Carbon Fiber Plate Footwear. Sports Medicine. 2023 Feb 13:1-7.