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Michael J. Asmussen, Glen A. Lichtwark, and Jayishni N. Maharaj

Humans have the remarkable ability to run over variable terrains. During locomotion, however, humans are unstable in the mediolateral direction and this instability must be controlled actively—a goal that could be achieved in more ways than one. Walking research indicates that the subtalar joint absorbs energy in early stance and returns it in late stance, an attribute that is credited to the tibialis posterior muscle-tendon unit. The purpose of this study was to determine how humans (n = 11) adapt to mediolateral perturbations induced by custom-made 3D-printed “footwear” that either enhanced or reduced pronation of the subtalar joint (modeled as motion in 3 planes) while running (3 m/s). In all conditions, the subtalar joint absorbed energy (ie, negative mechanical work) in early stance followed by an immediate return of energy (ie, positive mechanical work) in late stance, demonstrating a “spring-like” behavior. These effects increased and decreased in footwear conditions that enhanced or reduced pronation (P ≤ .05), respectively. Of the recorded muscles, the tibialis posterior (P ≤ .05) appeared to actively change its activation in concert with the changes in joint energetics. We suggest that the “spring-like” behavior of the subtalar joint may be an inherent function that enables the lower limb to respond to mediolateral instabilities during running.

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Shana E. Harrington, Sean McQueeney, and Marcus Fearing

. Sports injuries surveillance during the 2007 IAAF World Athletics Championships . Clin J Sport Med . 2009 ; 19 ( 1 ): 26 – 32 . doi:10.1097/JSM.0b013e318191c8e7 19124980 10.1097/JSM.0b013e318191c8e7 11. Alonso J-M , Tscholl PM , Engebretsen L , Mountjoy M , Dvorak J , Junge A