The purpose of running shoes is to protect feet from injury by stabilizing motion and cushioning impact. As material technology and product testing develop, shoes can offer more protection through advanced designs. A typical test for running shoes is a flexion test in which the shoe is bent through a fixed angle and the applied force is measured. Most tests bend the forefoot of a shoe, but this characterizes stiffness over a limited portion of the shoe. The goal of this research is to develop an improved flexion test by evaluating and quantifying the stiffness of running shoes in both the forefoot and mid-foot sections. To facilitate the measurement of shoe flexion at various locations, an apparatus was designed so that the distance between the fixed end of the shoe and the applied load is adjustable, adapting to a range of shoe sizes and bend lengths. Preliminary data agree with established tests and illustrate a difference in stiffness values at the two locations. As more testing is performed with more bend locations, a better shoe stiffness profile can be determined. The results generated with this testing method will be used to better evaluate shoe design and performance for injury prevention.
Ballun, Jorie and Zobeck, Kyle, "An Improved Method for Quantifying the Stiffness of Running Shoes" (2011). Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE). 31.