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Hum Mov Sci. 2015 Aug;42:38-53. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2015.04.007. Epub 2015 May 15.

A comparative biomechanical analysis of habitually unshod and shod runners based on a foot morphological difference.

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Faculty of Sports Science, Ningbo University, China.
Department of Engineering Science, University of Auckland, New Zealand; Auckland Bioengineering Institute, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
School of Kinesiology, Shanghai University of Sport, China.
Rehabilitation Center, Ningbo Ninth Hospital, China.


Running is one of the most accessible physical activities and running with and without footwear has attracted extensive attention in the past several years. In this study 18 habitually male unshod runners and 20 habitually male shod runners (all with dominant right feet) participated in a running test. A Vicon motion analysis system was used to capture the kinematics of each participant's lower limb. The in-shoe plantar pressure measurement system was employed to measure the pressure and force exerted on the pressure sensors of the insole. The function of a separate hallux in unshod runners is analyzed through the comparison of plantar pressure parameters. Owing to the different strike patterns in shod and unshod runners, peak dorsiflexion and plantarflexion angle were significantly different. Habitually shod runners exhibited a decreased foot strike angle (FSA) under unshod conditions; and the vertical average loading rate (VALR) of shod runners under unshod conditions was larger than that under shod conditions. This suggests that the foot strike pattern is more important than the shod or unshod running style and runners need to acquire the technique. It can be concluded that for habitually unshod runners the separate hallux takes part of the foot loading and reduces loading to the forefoot under shod conditions. The remaining toes of rearfoot strike (RFS) runners function similarly under unshod conditions. These morphological features of shod and unshod runners should be considered in footwear design to improve sport performance and reduce injury.


Foot morphological difference; Hallux; Kinematics; Kinetics; Plantar pressure

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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