Many believe that a return to a more primitive or naturalistic condition is paramount for optimal health. The previous research regarding this topic has been focused on the type of footwear worn; specifically, the effect footwear has on endurance running (2,5–7,11,14,18). It has been speculated that the arch support and cushion that a shoe provides may inhibit any positive adaptations relating to shock absorption and produce an unnatural foot motion. The result of this is an improved performance with a lower risk of injury (11,15,18).
Numerous studies have assessed barefoot and minimalist footwear (MF) conditions on running and walking performance (2,5,6,11,14,16,18). It is still not definitive if there are significant jumping performance differences between traditional tennis shoes (TS), bare feet (BF), or MF (4,13,14,21). This question has been assessed through ground reaction forces (11,12,14,20), 3-dimentional motion capture, joint positioning, kinetics, and kinematics (2,7,19,20).
With much of the current research focusing on variables related to running, there are very few studies that have investigated plyometric or ballistic movements (1,5,8,21). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of different footwear on jumping and landing parameters in men and women.
Experimental Approach to the Problem
This study was a repeated measures design with each subject performing single vertical jumps (VJs), multiple VJs (Bosco), and depth drops (DDs) in 3 different conditions (BF, TS, and MF). The order of conditions was randomized and differences between conditions and sex were determined.
Ten men (age, 22.4 ± 2.24 years; height, 175 ± 6.67 cm; mass, 73.74 ± 6.67 kg) and 10 women (age, 22.6 ± 2.06 years; height, 164.5 ± 5.27 cm; mass, 62.68 ± 4.61 kg) volunteered to participate. Participants were selected using convenience sampling. Inclusion criteria were healthy, recreationally trained individuals with a jumping background, with no current lower body injuries. Also, due to shoe availability, only men with size 9 or 11 and women with size 7 or 9 ft participated.
Subjects were measured for height and mass using a stadiometer (SECA, Ontario, CA, USA) and an electronic scale (ES200L, Ohaus, Pine Brook, NJ, USA), and their age was recorded in years. Subjects were randomly assigned the order of conditions and tests. Before participation, each subject read and signed an institutional review board approved informed consent document. Subjects were instructed to maintain their normal routines related to sleeping, eating, drinking, and exercise for the duration of the study and to refrain from lower body exercise 48 hours before testing.
Subjects arrived at the Human Performance Laboratory and completed a dynamic warm-up consisting of high knee pulls, Frankenstein's, and forward gate swings. Warm-up exercise was performed twice each for 15 m. Subjects were then familiarized with the testing protocol and with the MF. The testing protocol consisted of the VJ, DD, and a 15-second version of the Bosco Jump Test.
For the VJ, subjects placed their hands on their hips, performed a countermovement, jumped as high as possible, and then landed in a stabilized position. For the DD, subjects stood atop a box (45.72 cm) with their hands on their hips, then stepped off and landed on both feet in a stabilized position. For the Bosco Jump Test, subjects performed a squat to a depth that achieved a 90-degree bend in their knees. A goniometer was used to measure the point at which they reached 90 degrees. While holding that position, an elastic band was stretched between 2 standards and adjusted until it touched their glutes. The height of the band was recorded and set at the same height for all subsequent trials. They then performed repeated maximal effort countermovement VJs with their hands on their hips for a total of 60 seconds. Each repetition of the VJ required them to squat to the depth where their glutes touched the elastic band set at the appropriate height, while avoiding horizontal and lateral movement. Flight time, number of jumps performed, and contact time were recorded (3). Average power (Watts) was calculated by the equation:
In this equation, Ts is test duration, n is the number of jumps, Ft is total flight time, and g is acceleration due to gravity (9.81 m·s−2). Jump height (JH) was estimated by the time in the air equation.
Subjects returned to the Human Performance Laboratory and performed the same dynamic warm-up as day 1. They then performed each exercise in the specific condition assigned to them for that particular day. Subjects were given 2 practice attempts per movement, then data were collected on the following 3 repetitions.
Data were measured on an AMTI force plate (Advanced Mechanical Technology, Inc., Watertown, MA, USA), sampled at 1,000 Hz, and stored on a computer running custom Lab VIEW data collection and analysis software (version 7.1, National Instruments Corporation, Austin, TX, USA). Knee angle was measured with a hand-held goniometer (Grafco, # GF-12-1001, GF Health Products, Inc., Atlanta, GA, USA).
The MF for men (Model #V20555, Adidas America Inc., Portland, OR, USA) and women (Model #V22299, Adidas America Inc.) were Adidas “Adipure Trainer” shoes. Men's TS were Adidas, Climacool Leap (Model #G48614, Adidas America Inc.) and women's TS were Adidas, Adizero Supreme (Model # V21752, Adidas America Inc.).
Eight 3 × 2 (condition × sex) mixed factor analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were used for analysis. Four ANOVAs analyzed VJ peak relative ground reaction force (relGRF), JH, peak velocity (PV), and relative peak power (relPP). One ANOVA analyzed DD relative impact force (relIF). Three ANOVAs analyzed Bosco test average JH, average relPP, and total number of jumps.
Descriptive statistics were calculated for height, body mass, and age. All analyses were done using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS v. 20.0). An a priori Alpha of 0.05 was used to determine significance. Reliability measures for all tests were between intraclass correlation coefficient of 0.87 and 0.99.
Vertical jump PV and JH demonstrated an interaction. This was followed up for each test with two 1 × 3 ANOVAs by condition, one for each sex. For both tests, men had greater values with BF and MF compared with TS, whereas women showed no differences (Figures 1 and 2). Relative peak power demonstrated no interaction but there were main effects for condition and sex. For condition, BF was significantly greater than both TS and MF, while men had greater values than women (Table 1). Vertical jump relGRF showed no interaction or main effects (Table 2). Depth drop relIF showed no interaction, but there was a main effect for sex, with women having greater values than men (Table 3).
Bosco average relPP showed no interaction, but there were main effects for condition and sex. For condition, BF was more than MF and TS, while men had greater values than women (Table 4). Average JH demonstrated no interaction, but there were main effects for sex and condition. For condition, BF and MF were greater than TS, and BF was greater than MF, while men had greater values than women (Table 5). For total number of jumps, there was an interaction of condition and sex. This was followed up with two 1 × 3 ANOVAs by condition, one for each sex. Women displayed no difference between conditions, whereas for men, TS had greater number of jumps than BF or MF (Table 6).
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of different footwear on jumping and landing forces in men and women. Our results demonstrated that BF resulted in greater relPP during the VJ (single) and Bosco tests (multiple), whereas JH was also greater in BF and MF compared with TS. These results may be attributed to the additional cushion of the TS, when compared to BF or MF. If force is being dissipated into the cushion of a shoe, then it could not be applied directly into the ground, which may have negatively affected velocity, power, and JH. In addition, women demonstrated greater impact forces than men in the DD, which may be explained by the different jumping and landing mechanics displayed between genders (10).
Most previous research has focused on the effects of different footwear on variables related to long distance running (2,5–7,11,14,18). It seems as if the cushioning effect of TS may be detrimental to performance. Recent research has concluded that impact forces were greatest in shoes with a thicker sole (similar to our TS) (11,16,18), when compared with BF or MF. Sacco et al. (16) found higher braking forces with diabetic individuals in TS compared with BF. Additionally, Squadrone and Gallozzi (18) saw lower impact forces in barefoot and minimalist conditions compared with TS while Lieberman et al. (11) saw similar results with lower impact forces in BF vs. TS in traditionally barefoot runners. However, Logan et al. (12) saw higher breaking forces in men wearing racing spikes and flats (minimalist) compared with running shoes (thicker sole TS), whereas women showed no differences. Conversely, our results indicated no differences in impact or ground reaction forces between conditions. Our dissimilar results may be explained by different tests used to measure landing forces and the use of different footwear. The previously mentioned studies measured impact force by having subjects perform walking, running, or one-legged landings from a jump, whereas we had subjects perform a DD using both legs. Our results are supported by Yeow et al. (21), who found no differences in impact force between BF and TS during a 2-legged landing.
It should be noted that Squadrone and Gallozzi (18) concluded that MF appropriately mimicked BF conditions. Conversely, our study generally displayed that BF resulted in greater forces when compared with MF. This may be attributed to familiarity with the MF, or that the specific model of MF used in our study was different from that used by Squadrone and Gallozzi (18). Last, women in our study exhibited greater relIFs when compared with men during DD. These findings may be attributed to different jumping and landing mechanics displayed between genders (10).
There is a paucity of anaerobic performance research related to BF and MF. Our study found that women had greater power in BF compared with TS or MF. For men, VJ velocity, power, and JH were significantly greater in BF. This may be attributed to increased cushion of the shoe/footwear. The cushion in any type of footwear acts as a shock absorber, dissipating force into the shoe sole material (17,21). Therefore, if one attempts to jump by applying maximal force into the ground, any dissipation of that force would be detrimental, as it would not contribute to jump performance.
Decreases in performance would be further exacerbated in repeated jumps, as seen in the Bosco test. A BF condition might allow individuals to apply force directly into the ground with less dissipation. Hanson et al. (9) found treadmill and over ground running were more economical in BF than in TS. Therefore, with every step, force may have been delivered directly into the ground with less dissipation. This may support our findings during the Bosco test where, with repeated jumps, BF allowed individuals to apply force directly into the ground with less dissipation leading to greater average jump height and average power.
Our results demonstrate the benefits of BF and MF, as a means of improving VJ performance with no effect on impact forces when compared with TS. Because of these benefits, one may speculate that a significant training effect would occur with repetitive jump training using BF or minimalist shoes. This training effect should then lead to enhanced performance during competition. Therefore, athletes and coaches interested in enhancing single and multiple VJs might use either BF or MF during jump training.
The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.
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Keywords:© 2013 National Strength and Conditioning Association
power; impact; force