Acute effects of barefoot, minimal shoes and running shoes on lower limb mechanics in rear and forefoot strike runners


Barefoot or minimal footwear running is currently a highly debated topic among runners and researchers. Several footwear companies have developed minimal running footwear to simulate barefoot running but few studies have compared minimal footwear to barefoot and shoes during running. The primary goal of this study was to compare acute changes in three-dimensional (3D) ground reaction forces (GRFs) and lower limb kinematics and kinetics of habitually shod rearfoot strike (RFS) and forefoot strike (FFS) runners between minimal shoes (MSH), barefoot and neutral cushion running shoes (SH). Lower extremity joint biomechanical variables of RFS and FFS runners were analysed using a 3D motion capture system and a force platform during overground running in barefoot, MSH and running shoes. Barefoot and MSH showed a more anterior foot strike than shoes. The loading rate of the impact peak GRF was greater in barefoot and MSH than in shoes. MSH showed greater ankle plantarflexor moment and negative power in early stance compared to shoes, which indicates greater eccentric plantarflexor muscle involvement in MSH than in shoes. Running shoes had greater peak knee extensor moment, early stance eccentric knee power and late stance concentric knee power compared to MSH and barefoot indicating less knee joint involvement. The current findings only pertain to acute changes between shoe conditions, and therefore training interventions in minimal footwear are warranted to further understand the adaptation effects of shod to barefoot or RFS to FFS running on lower limb biomechanics and running performance. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Publication Title

Footwear Science