Document Type



Running shoes have recently been designed to mimic barefoot walking or running, and they are marketed with promises that runners will benefit from the effects of barefoot running. Studying gait analysis with particular running shoes is extremely important because the ankle and foot serve as the foundation of structural balance, support, and propulsion. In this study, the knee and hip joint motions will be addressed while wearing Vibram FiveFinger and Nike Free Run shoes, which are designed to imitate barefoot running while providing protection from the elements. The purpose of this current study was to investigate the movement kinematics in the hip and knee joint while running on the treadmill at 0%, 4%, and 8% inclines in the barefoot condition as well as in Nike Free Run and Vibram FiveFinger shoes. Five experienced distance runners with a heel strike landing style in the traditional cushioned shoe were selected to participate in the study. During the testing each participant ran at 3.0 m/s on a slope of 0%, 4% and 8% in all three types of footwear. A two-way repeated measures ANOVA test was conducted at α = 0.05 followed by a t-test with a Bonferroni adjustment if a significant difference was found. The results of the study showed a significant difference in slope was observed between the 0% incline and the 8% incline during the heel strike phase in the hip joint and the mid support phase of the knee joint, and a significant difference in footwear was found between the barefoot and Nike shoe during the mid support phase of gait in the hip joint. Also during the mid support phase of gait, a significant difference was found between the barefoot and Nike shoe as well as the Vibram and Nike shoe in the knee joint. No significant differences were found when comparing shoe or slope in regards to angular velocity in both hip and knee joints. The findings of this study show that when looking at the phases of the gait cycle, the mid support phase of gait is the most crucial phase of gait. The toe off phase was found to be the least important phase of gait to be examined. Running slope is important because the slope can affect the running kinematics when the gradient is substantial (0% to 8%). It is critical that when developing new footwear that the mid support phase should be the most important phase of gait to be examined, particularly in respect to the knee joint.


Physical Education

Thesis Comittee

Tong-Ching Tom Wu (Thesis Director)

Edward A. Braun

Pamela Russell

Copyright and Permissions

Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.