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Hum Mov Sci. 2019 Jan 22;64:75-88. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2019.01.006. [Epub ahead of print]

The effect of running on foot muscles and bones: A systematic review.

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Institute for Health and Sport (IHeS), Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia. Electronic address:
Institute for Health and Sport (IHeS), Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.


Despite the widespread evidence of running as a health-preserving exercise, little is known concerning its effect on the foot musculature and bones. While running may influence anatomical foot adaptation, it remains unclear to what extent these adaptations occur. The aim of this paper is to provide a systematic review of the studies that investigated the effects of running and the adaptations that occur in foot muscles and bones. The search was performed following the PRISMA guidelines. Relevant keywords were used for the search through PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus and SPORTDiscus. The methodological quality of intervention studies was assessed using the Downs and Black checklist. For cross-sectional studies, the Newcastle-Ottawa scale was used. Sixteen studies were found meeting the inclusion criteria. In general, the included studies were deemed to be of moderate methodological quality. Although results of relevant literature are limited and somewhat contradictory, the outcome suggests that running may increase foot muscle volume, muscle cross-sectional area and bone density, but this seems to depend on training volume and experience. Future studies conducted in this area should aim for a standard way of reporting foot muscle/bone characteristics. Also, herein, suggestions for future research are provided.


Adaptation; Biomechanics; Footwear; Injuries; Performance

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