Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

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DOR Podcast #75: What are Rocker Soles and What Benefits do they Have?, How to Deal with Conflicting Evidence, + XTEP RC 260

Today Nate and Matt take a deep dive into rocker soles in running shoes. What exactly is a rocker sole? What's the role of toe spring in a shoe? Who may benefit from a rockered sole and who may not? Afterwards we discuss what to do when presented with conflicting evidence and how to sift through the vast amount of information and research available. Finally, Matt gives his review of the XTEP RC260.

Listen to This Week's Podcast Here!


Direct Links: Apple | Spotify | Anchor


0:00 - Intro
1:26 -
The Subjective: what's your favorite Winter Olympics event?
6:56 -
Rocker Soles: definitions and biomechanical implications
23:20 -
What shoes have the best integrated forefoot rockers?
28:50 -
Who may benefit from rocker soles?
36:27 -
Who may not benefit from rocker soles?
40:56 -
Research: what we do with conflicting evidence
48:59 -
XTEP X 260 Review

The aggressively rockered Asics Magic Speed
Science Blog: Unloading the Achilles through Rockered Shoes
By Matt Klein

Runners, particularly masters level runners (>35 years old) have a fairly high incidence of Achilles problems. Given that the calf muscles, which connect into the Achilles tendon, are the primary muscles of support and propulsion in running, it makes sense this would be a common area of overuse.

A shoe like the Saucony Endorphin Pro 2 has the potential to unload this area. It is well known that rockered shoes take load off the ankle, calf and Achilles tendon. Even among athletes with chronic Achilles tendinopathy, these shoe types have been known to take pressure off this area. However, in carbon plated shoes this depends highly on the stiffness and angle of the plate. The S-plate in the Endorphin Pro 1 and 2 may not be as aggressive as other shoes with full plates, which integrates very well with the toe spring. This makes for a very smooth and rockered ride off the front of the shoe. It does not make for the absolute fastest ride, but certainly one of the more consistent. Anecdotally I was able to use this as my primary workout shoe during a stint with my own Achilles irritation. I had next to no symptoms except slightly during impact.

In masters runners, it is well known that there can be a loss of mobility and strength at the ankle, foot and toe joints. A shoe that unloads this area and requires more work from the knee and hip (which these shoes do) may be optimal for performance. Shoes like this do shift work up to the knee and hip, which also shifts the injury risk. So while certain shoes with optimal levels of toe spring, stiffness and rockered soles may reduce load at this area, the shift in force means that smart training, adequate strength work and adequate mobility work are still required. Running is a high impact sport and requires maintenance to continue optimally. So if you are not doing the extra things for your body to maintain it, you should think about starting.

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