A non-invasive method for demonstrating the shock wave which propagates through the skeletal system following heel strike is described. This wave was not seen in force plate studies where adequate shock absorption was provided by running shoes. In the present study six subjects ran across a force plate without shoes before and after they were fatigued on a treadmill to demonstrate possible changes in the heel strike transient. Most of the parameters measured were not altered by fatigue, and a relationship between the shock wave and height, but not the weight of the runner was demonstrated. The different mechanisms leading to this phenomenon, and its implication in the areas of osteoarthritic degeneration and running mechanics are discussed.
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