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BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2017 May 31;3(1):e000160. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2016-000160. eCollection 2017.

The effect of minimalist footwear and instruction on running: an observational study.

Author information

1
Division of Health & Social Care Research, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, King's College London, London, UK.
2
Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, King's College London, London, UK.
3
Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, King's College London, London, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

It is not known whether the effects on altered running style which are attributed to minimalist footwear can be achieved by verbal instructions in standard running shoes (SRS).

AIM:

To explore the effect of Vibram FiveFingers (VFF) versus SRS plus running instruction on lower extremity spatiotemporal parameters and lower limb joint kinematics.

METHODS:

35 healthy subjects (mean=30 years, 18 females) were assessed on two occasions with 3D motion analysis. At each session subjects ran on a treadmill (3.58 m/s) for 2 min in either VFF or SRS (randomised order); with and without running instruction. Differences between spatiotemporal parameters and lower limb joint kinematics between conditions were assessed using a 2x2 repeated-measures ANOVA.

RESULTS:

Wearing VFF significantly increased cadence (p<0.001) and reduced stride length (p<0.01). Prior to initial contact, both instruction and VFF significantly increased foot (p<0.001 and p=0.02, respectively) and ankle (p<0.001 and p=0.02, respectively) plantarflexion, while wearing VFF significantly increased knee extension (p=0.04). At initial contact, instruction significantly increased knee flexion (p=0.04), and foot (p=0.001) and ankle (p=0.03) plantarflexion. At mid-stance and toe-off, instruction significantly increased knee flexion (p=0.048 and p<0.001, respectively) and foot plantarflexion (p<0.001 and p=0.01, respectively). Instruction had a greater effect on increasing knee flexion (p=0.007) and plantarflexion angle (p<0.001) when subjects wore SRS and VFF, respectively.

CONCLUSION:

Alterations in spatiotemporal parameters observed when running in VFF are likely to be attributable to the minimalist footwear. However, the kinematic adaptations observed following instruction suggests that changes in joint angles previously attributed to minimalist footwear alone may be similarly achieved with instruction.

KEYWORDS:

instruction; minimalist footwear; running; vibram fivefingers®

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