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OSU Cascades kinesiology associate professor to discuss how proper footwear can prevent injuries and ease pain

Footwear is really an important intervention for any lower extremity pain.

This is one of several messages Christine Pollard, associate professor of kinesiology with OSU Cascades, hopes to convey during an upcoming Science Pub event in Prineville.

The Science Pub series invites the public to delve into the fascinating worlds of OSU's leading researchers in such casual settings as McMenamins in Bend as well as locations in Sisters and Sunriver. On May 15, Pollard will add Prineville to the list as she gives a presentation titled "Biomechanics of Running Shoes: Is There an Ideal Shoe?" at Meadow Lakes Restaurant.

Though "running" is included in the title, Pollard is quick to stress that the lecture is not geared exclusively toward people who regularly lace up some shoes and jog a few miles.

"A lot of people wear running shoes. Let's say a 55-year-old who has knee pain may be interested in footwear that might be useful to reduce that pain," she said. "This will help teach folks about what goes into these shoes and what is important and what features help reduce injuries."

A physical therapist and bio mechanist, Pollard said she evaluates patients and oftentimes finds that part of that process includes assessing their footwear, something she says can easily be changed.

"Our research is aimed at understanding how footwear affects individuals," she said. "My personal goal is mostly related to preventing injury and treating people who have injuries and really understanding how footwear plays a role in this."

Pollard notes that running shoes date back to as far as the late 1800s, and the first cushioned running shoes were introduced in 1964. Since then, running footwear has continued to evolve, and recent trends have resulted in many dramatically different shoes.

She hopes to highlight the history of running footwear during presentation and then talk about research and what it has revealed about shoes.

"A lot of my talk will be focused on the newer shoes," she said. "One in particular will be the Hoka shoes, a thick cushioned shoe."

The shoes have a big midsole, Pollard said, and many people from athletes to professionals who often spend the workday on their feet have begun wearing them. She also plans to discuss "minimal shoes" like the Vibram FiveFingers, which have virtually no midsole and almost give the sensation of going barefoot.

By the conclusion of her talk, Pollard hopes people will have a better idea of things to consider the next time they choose their ideal running shoe.

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