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Kinematic and Kinetic Comparison of Running in Standard and Minimalist Shoes


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 2014 - Volume 46 - Issue 2 - p 318–323
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182a595d2
Applied Sciences

Purpose The purpose of this study was to determine whether running in a minimalist shoe results in a reduction in ground reaction forces and alters kinematics over standard shoe running. The secondary purpose of this study was to determine whether within-session accommodation to a novel minimalist shoe occurs.

Methods Subjects were 14 male, rearfoot striking runners who had never run in a minimalist shoe. Subjects were tested while running 3.35 m·s−1 for 10 min on an instrumented treadmill in a minimalist and a standard shoe as three-dimensional lower extremity kinematics and kinetics were evaluated. Data were collected at minute 1 and then again after 10 min of running in both shoe conditions to evaluate accommodation to the shoe conditions.

Results Shoe–time interactions were not found for any of the variables of interest. Minimalist shoe running resulted in no changes in step length (P = 0.967) or in step rate (P = 0.230). At footstrike, greater knee flexion (P = 0.001) and greater dorsiflexion angle (P = 0.025) were noted in the minimalist shoe. Vertical impact peak (P = 0.017) and average vertical loading rate (P < 0.000) were greater during minimalist shoe running. There were main effects of time as dorsiflexion angle decreased (P = 0.035), foot inclination at footstrike decreased (P = 0.048), and knee flexion at footstrike increased (P = 0.002), yet the vertical impact peak (P = 0.002) and average vertical loading rate (P < 0.000) increased.

Conclusions Running in a minimalist shoe appears to, at least in the short term, increase loading of the lower extremity over standard shoe running. The accommodation period resulted in less favorable landing mechanics in both shoes. These findings bring into question whether minimal shoes will provide enough feedback to induce an alteration that is similar to barefoot running.

1Division of Physical Therapy, Ohio University, Athens, OH; and 2Spaulding National Running Center, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA

Address for correspondence: Richard Willy, PT, Ph.D., Department of Physical Therapy, Mail stop: 668 Allied Health East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27834; E-mail:

Submitted for publication March 2013.

Accepted for publication July 2013.

© 2014 American College of Sports Medicine