Modified SHoes for osteoARthritis of the Knee (SHARK)

Project Details

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) affects many older people and is a major public health problem. Afflicted individuals suffer from knee pain and physical dysfunction that impacts dramatically on quality of life. Osteoarthritis has no cure and often gets worse over time. Non-toxic treatments that reduce symptoms and assist patient self-management over the long-term are urgently needed. Increased joint loading (force across the knee) is central to pain development and increased risk of disease progression in people with knee OA. The type of shoes a person wears can increase or decrease their knee load depending on the shoe design features. Our team, in conjunction with ASICS Pty Ltd, has custom-designed and developed shoes that reduce knee load by 8-9% in people with knee OA. This NHMRC-funded randomised controlled trial (RCT) will test the efficacy of these “modified” shoes for reducing symptoms and improving physical function in people with knee OA. If proven successful, modified shoes could be a simple self-management strategy for people with knee OA that could have widespread impact if made widely available in retail outlets. This research may also encourage further advances in the development of footwear for managing OA and other load-related musculoskeletal conditions.

Participants will undergo a knee xray as part of the screening procedures for determining study eligibility. Eligible participants will complete baseline testing session at the University of Melbourne that will involve questionnaires and analysis of their walking patterns while wearing shoes and in barefeet. Participants will be randomly allocated to receive either a) modified shoes or b) normal recreational shoes to wear for 6 months. Over this time, participants will complete monthly log books to record medications, other treatments, side effects and shoe usage. At 3 months and 6 months, participants will repeat the questionnaires at home and return them via mail or email. We will also provide participants with two pedometers at baseline, 3 months and 6 months, one to wear attached to the participants waist to count the number of steps they take for 7 days and the other attached to the study shoe over the same period, so we can examine the percentage of walking that the participant wears the study shoe.


Prof Rana Hinman

Prof Kim Bennell

Mr Tim Wrigley

Mr Ben Metcalf

Ms Penny Campbell

Dr Kade Paterson

Prof David Hunter

Prof Andrew Forbes

Dr Jessica Kasza


University of Sydney

Monash University


National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) - project number: 1044396.

Research Outcomes

Unloading shoes for osteoarthritis of the knee: protocol for the SHARK randomised controlled trial

Research Group

Musculoskeletal and Sports Rehabilitation

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre


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