The effect of stride length on the dynamics of barefoot and shod running

M A Thompson, A Gutmann, J Seegmiller, C P McGowan
Journal of Biomechanics 2014 August 22, 47 (11): 2745-50
A number of interventions and technique changes have been proposed to attempt to improve performance and reduce the number of running related injuries. Running shoes, barefoot running and alterations in spatio-temporal parameters (stride frequency and stride length) have been associated with significant kinematic and kinetic changes, which may have implications for performance and injury prevention. However, because footwear interventions have been shown to also affect spatio-temporal parameters, there is uncertainty regarding the origin of the kinematic and kinetic alterations. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to independently evaluate the effects of shoes and changes in stride length on lower extremity kinetics. Eleven individuals ran over-ground at stride lengths ± 5 and 10% of their preferred stride length, in both the barefoot and shod condition. Three-dimensional motion capture and force plate data were captured synchronously and used to compute lower extremity joint moments. We found a significant main effect of stride length on anterior-posterior and vertical GRFs, and sagittal plane knee and ankle moments in both barefoot and shod running. When subjects ran at identical stride lengths in the barefoot and shod conditions we did not observe differences for any of the kinetic variables that were measured. These findings suggest that barefoot running triggers a decrease in stride length, which could lead to a decrease in GRFs and sagittal plane joint moments. When evaluating barefoot running as a potential option to reduce injury, it is important to consider the associated change in stride length.

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