The study by researcher Dr. Najia Shakoor from Rush University Medical Center showed that long term use of such footwear, called "mobility shoes," helped OA patients adapt their gait or how they walk, which improved knee loading, even when the mobility shoes were no longer worn.
In previous studies, Shakoor and colleagues from Rush found that walking barefoot as well as with 'mobility shoes,' which are designed to mimic barefoot mechanics, was linked to reduced knee loading compared to when walking with regular footwear worn by participants.
The researcher said that in the present study, they expand understanding of their earlier research by evaluating the impact of the mobility footwear on gait after six months of use.
The Rush team recruited 16 participants with knee OA, obtaining a baseline gait with participants walking in their own shoes, mobility shoes and barefoot. Participants wore the mobility shoes for six hours each day for six days per week and patient gait was evaluated at 6, 12 and 24 weeks in all conditions.
The study suggested that by 24 weeks, participants wearing mobility footwear saw an 18 percent reduction in knee adduction moment (KAM) and no significant difference in KAM was found between walking with mobility shoes and barefoot.
Compared to baseline, analyses indicate an 11 percent and 10 percent reduction in KAM for OA patients walking in their own shoes and barefoot, respectively, suggesting the mobility shoes may have "re-trained" participant's gait.
The study is published in journal Arthritis and Rheumatism.