JOURNAL ARTICLE

Lower extremity biomechanical relationships with different speeds in traditional, minimalist, and barefoot footwear

William Fredericks, Seth Swank, Madeline Teisberg, Bethany Hampton, Lance Ridpath, Jandy B Hanna
Journal of Sports Science & Medicine 2015, 14 (2): 276-83
25983575
Minimalist running footwear has grown increasingly popular. Prior studies that have compared lower extremity biomechanics in minimalist running to traditional running conditions are largely limited to a single running velocity. This study compares the effects of running at various speeds on foot strike pattern, stride length, knee angles and ankle angles in traditional, barefoot, and minimalist running conditions. Twenty-six recreational runners (19-46 years of age) ran on a treadmill at a range of speeds (2.5-4.0 m·sec(-1)). Subjects ran with four different footwear conditions: personal, standard, and minimalist shoes and barefoot. 3D coordinates from video data were collected. The relationships between speed, knee and ankle angles at foot strike and toe-off, relative step length, and footwear conditions were evaluated by ANCOVA, with speed as the co-variate. Distribution of non-rearfoot strike was compared across shod conditions with paired t-tests. Non-rearfoot strike distribution was not significantly affected by speed, but was different between shod conditions (p < 0.05). Footwear condition and speed significantly affected ankle angle at touchdown, independent of one another (F [3,71] = 10.28, p < 0.001), with barefoot and minimalist running exhibiting greater plantarflexion at foot strike. When controlling for foot strike style, barefoot and minimalist runners exhibited greater plantarflexion than other conditions (p < 0.05). Ankle angle at lift-off and relative step length exhibited a significant interaction between speed and shod condition. Knee angles had a significant relationship with speed, but not with footwear. There is a clear influence of footwear, but not speed, on foot strike pattern. Additionally, speed and footwear predict ankle angles (greater plantarflexion at foot strike) and may have implications for minimalist runners and their risk of injury. Long-term studies utilizing various speeds and habituation times are needed. Key pointsFoot strike style does not change with speed, but does change with shod condition, with minimalist shoes exhibiting an intermediate distribution of forefoot strikes between barefoot and traditional shoes.Plantarflexion at touchdown does change with speed and with shoe type, with barefoot and minimalist shoes exhibiting a greater plantarflexion angle than traditional running shoes.Knee angles change with speed in all shod conditions, but knee flexion at touchdown is not different between shod conditions.Relative step length changes with speed and shod condition, but there is an interaction between these variables such that step length increases more quickly in traditional shoes as speed increases.

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