Carmen R. Houck1, David S. Senchina1. Jumpers’ Subjective Perception of Footwear, but not Jump Performance, is Influenced in a Placebo-Like Manner by a Retail Orthotic. 1Kinesiology Program, Biology Department, Drake University, Des Moines, IA, USA.


Introduction: Within the realm of sports and exercise, athletes have a desire to improve performance and a common strategy is via equipment. In this study, the performance effects and wearer perception of a butadiene and natural rubber retail orthotic was investigated. Methods: A total of 38 subjects (20 females and 18 males) were included. Subjects performed all tasks twice in identical shoes that differed in whether the orthotic was present or absent. Subjects were divided equally into two groups. In the Aware group (AWG), subjects were told which shoes contained the orthotic and which did not; in the Unaware group (UAWG), condition was not disclosed to them. Measurements included maximum vertical jump and broad jump performance, goniometry (dorsiflexion, plantarflexion, inversion, eversion), and several perceptual measurements (shoe comfort, shoe stability, shoe cushioning, and jump performance). Results: Across both groups, there were no significant differences for orthotic versus control in maximum vertical jump performance (18.1±5.7 in. for orthotic, 18.4±6.2 in. for control), broad jump performance (71.4±19.3 in. for orthotic, 70.2±19.5 for control), goniometry measurements, or performance perception. There were no differences in footwear perception scores between orthotic versus control in the UAWG, however, there were significant differences in the AWG such that they rated the orthotic condition as more comfortable after both jumps and more cushioned after the broad jump compared to control. Conclusions: Since there was no significant differences in jump performance, goniometry measurements, or performance perception in either group, and differences in footwear perception were seen only in the UAWG, results may indicate a placebo-like effect.