European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 2, pp 429–439 | Cite as

Does an increase in energy return and/or longitudinal bending stiffness shoe features reduce the energetic cost of running?

  • Nicolas FloresEmail author
  • Nicolas Delattre
  • Eric Berton
  • Guillaume Rao
Original Article



This study focused on the effects of shoe energy return and shoe longitudinal bending stiffness on the energetic cost and biomechanics of running.


The energetic cost of running and biomechanical variables altering running economy (ground contact times, stride frequency, vertical and leg stiffness, ground reaction force impulses, alignment between the resultant ground reaction force and the leg) were measured for nineteen male recreational runners. Participants ran overground under their ventilatory anaerobic threshold (10.8 ± 1.1 km h−1 on average) using four shoe prototypes with features combining low or high magnitudes of energy return and longitudinal bending stiffness.


Neither the energy return, nor the longitudinal bending stiffness, or the interaction of these shoe features altered the energetic cost of running. High energy return shoes induced significant increased ground contact time from 274.5 ± 18.3 to 277.1 ± 18.7 ms, and significant decreased stride frequency from 1.34 ± 0.05 to 1.33 ± 0.05 Hz. High bending stiffness shoes induced significant increased ground contact time from 273.8 ± 18.2 to 277.9 ± 18.7 ms, significant increased vertical stiffness from 23.2 ± 3.4 to 23.8 ± 3.0 kN m−1, and significant decreased net vertical impulse from 245.4 ± 17.2 to 241.7 ± 17.5 BW ms.


Increased energy return and longitudinal bending stiffness induced subtle changes in the running biomechanics, but did not induce any decrease in the energetic cost of running.


Footwear Running economy Biomechanics Ground reaction force 



Analysis of variance


Body weight


Ground reaction force


Running economy


Statistical parametric mapping


Ventilatory anaerobic threshold



Authors would thank Marvin Dufrenne, Delphine Chadefaux and Romain Hardouin (Aix-Marseille University) for their help during the data acquisition. Authors also thank Alexia Cariou and Estelle Le Gendre (Decathlon SportsLab) for their statistical support, and Dr. Todd Pataky (Kyoto University) for the suitable use of the Statistical Parametric Mapping procedure. Special thanks to Dr. Cédric Morio (Decathlon SportsLab) for his useful advices about the experimental procedure and the data analysis, and Mikku Knudsen (Decathlon SportsLab) for his English review.

Author contributions

NF performed the research design, the experiments, the data analysis, and the manuscript writing. ND, EB and GR contributed in the research design and in the manuscript writing. ND and GR contributed in the data analysis. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

NF and ND are members of the company Decathlon™ in the research department. NF and ND did not report any conflict of interest because the shoe conditions used in this study were prototypes without any commercial value. NF, ND, EB and GR declared that the results of the study are presented clearly, honestly, and without fabrication, falsification, nor inappropriate data manipulation.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Aix-Marseille University institutional research and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Decathlon SportsLab, Movement Sciences DepartmentVilleneuve d’AscqFrance
  2. 2.Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, ISMMarseilleFrance

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