Do habitual foot-strike patterns in running influence functional Achilles tendon properties during gait?

Scott C. Wearing, I. S. Davis, T. Brauner, S. L. Hooper, T. Horstmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The capacity of foot-strike running patterns to influence the functional properties of the Achilles tendon is controversial. This study used transmission-mode ultrasound to investigate the influence of habitual running foot-strike pattern on Achilles tendon properties during barefoot walking and running. Fifteen runners with rearfoot (RFS) and 10 with a forefoot (FFS) foot-strike running pattern had ultrasound transmission velocity measured in the right Achilles tendon during barefoot walking (≈1.1 ms−1) and running (≈2.0 ms−1). Temporospatial gait parameters, ankle kinematics and vertical ground reaction force were simultaneously recorded. Statistical comparisons between foot-strike patterns were made using repeated measure ANOVAs. FFS was characterised by a significantly shorter stance duration (−4%), greater ankle dorsiflexion (+2°), and higher peak vertical ground reaction force (+20% bodyweight) than RFS running (P <.05). Both groups adopted a RFS pattern during walking, with only the relative timing of peak dorsiflexion (3%), ground reaction force (1–2%) and peak vertical force loading rates (22–23%) differing between groups (P <.05). Peak ultrasound transmission velocity in the Achilles tendon was significantly higher in FFS during walking (≈100 ms−1) and running (≈130 ms−1) than RFS (P <.05). Functional Achilles tendon properties differ with habitual footfall patterns in recreational runners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2735-2743
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number23
StatePublished - 2 Dec 2019


  • Ultrasound
  • biomechanics
  • footfall
  • soft tissue
  • speed of sound


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