Physical activities such as stair walking and jumping result in increased dynamic loading on the human musculoskeletal system. Use of light weight, externally attached accelerometers allows for in-vivo monitoring of the shock waves invading the human musculoskeletal system during those activities. Shock waves were measured in four subjects performing stair walking up and down, jumping in place and jumping off a fixed elevation. The results obtained show that walking down a staircase induced shock waves with amplitude of 130% of that observed in walking up stairs and 250% of the shock waves experienced in level gait. The jumping test revealed levels of the shock waves nearly eight times higher than that in level walking. It was also shown that the shock waves invading the human musculoskeletal system may be generated not only by the heel strike, but also by the metatarsal strike. To moderate the risk of degenerative joint disorders four types of viscoelastic insoles were utilized to reduce the impact generated shock waves. The insoles investigated were able to reduce the amplitude of the shock wave by between 9% and 41% depending on the insole type and particular physical activity. The insoles were more effective in the reduction of the heel strike impacts than in the reduction of the metatarsal strike impacts. In all instances, the shock attenuation capacities of the insoles tested were greater in the jumping trials than in the stair walking studies. The insoles were ranked in three groups on the basis of their shock absorbing capacity.
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