Int J Sports Med 1988; 09(6): 468-473
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-1025053
© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Significance of Heel Pad Confinement for the Shock Absorption at Heel Strike

U. Jørgensen, J. Ekstrand
  • The Sports Medicine Clinic, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Linköping, Sweden.
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Publication History

Publication Date:
14 March 2008 (online)


Shock absorption (SA) is a simple way to reduce the body load and can be used in the prevention and treatment of injuries. The heel pad is the most important shock absorber in the shoe heel complex. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the SA at heel strike can be increased by heel support in people and shoes with high or low SA. The impact forces at heel strike were measured on an AMTI (R) force platform. Fourteen legs were tested in seven persons (nine with normal and five with low heel pad SA) in gait analysis and in human drop tests. The tests were performed barefooted, and in a soccer and a running shoe (selected by shoe drop test), with and without the distal 2 cm of the heel counter. The heel pad confinement produced by the heel counter (the heel counter effect) increased the SA in both shoe types significantly in both impact sitations. The mean increase in SA was 8.8% (range 5.8%-15.5%). The heel counter effect was in all situations significantly higher in persons with low heel pad shock absorbency (LHPSA) than in those with normal heel pads. The barefoot impact peak force per kg body weight was significantly higher (6%mean) on the side with LHPSA. The running shoe provided the significantly greatest SA compared with the soccer shoe. It is concluded that the shock absorbency at heel strike can be increased significantly by heel support, with highest effect in persons with LHPSA, both in shoes with high and low SA. This should be considered when chosing, constructing, or testing shoes where an optimal shock absorbency is desired.