Researchers at Rush University Medical College measured the stress on arthritic knees and hips of different kinds of shoes – and were surprised to find that the worst shoes were the most ‘supportive’ ones, according to a team led by rheumatologist Najia Shakoor, MD.(1)
Heavy, cushy, arch-supporting “stability” shoes and clogs that have stiff soles and don’t bend exerted the most harmful force on the knees. (These were the shoes the Rush page on “Proper Footwear” was touting just a few months ago.)
The best shoes are very flat, lightweight, and flexible – the ones that most resemble going barefoot, with flip-flops best of all. These being the very ones that the Proper Footwear page had warned against for lacking cushioning and shock absorption.
Note: Flipflops do the least harm to knees, but obviously are loose, can’t be worn every place and season, and can’t be recommended for those who are liable to be tripped up. So the arthritis specialists at Rush have been designing a sneaker for people with arthritis & knee problems. They say it will let the foot bend where it wants to bend.
According to an abstract describing their award winning shoe design pilot project, this mobility shoe “is associated with a 46% reduction in pain and 17% reduction in knee loads from baseline over 6 months.”
They predict it could have an enormous impact on footwear design and on the treatment of knee OA.
1. See Shakoor N, et al. “Effects of Common Footwear on Joint Loading in Osteoarthritis of the Knee,” Arthritis Care & Research, Jul 2010
Source: Rush University Medical Center News Release, Mar 24, 2010