Author Information

Stephanie Lloyd


Recently various sports footwear companies have produced different types of minimalist running shoes to mimic barefoot walking or running such as Vibram FiveFingers and Nike Free Run shoes. The purpose of this study was to examine the range of dorsiflexion and plantarflexion movements at the foot in barefoot conditions in comparison to Vibram FiveFingers and Nike Free Run minimalist shoes to evaluate if the minimalist footwear would affect ankle joint motion on both flat and inclined surfaces. Five elite female runners were chosen to run on a treadmill for 30s at the speed of 3 m/s on an incline of 0%, 4%, and 8%. Reflective markers were placed on the shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, and toe. Joint angles during heel strike, mid support, and toe off were then calculated and compared to determine the degree of dorsiflexion and plantarflexion movements while running at various inclines. A standard two-dimensional kinematic analysis was then conducted for foot dorsiflexion and plantarflexion angles at the heel strike, mid support and toe off for each type of footwear in each incline angle. A two-way (3 types of footwear x 3 treadmill angles) repeated measures ANOVA test was conducted at α = 0.05 with Bonferroni adjustment if a significance was found. No statistical significant differences were found between the various types of footwear on three different inclines. These findings indicate that similar ankle joint movements were observed during the 0%, 4%, and 8% inclinations. Barefoot, FiveFingers and Free Run running shoes provide similar joint mobility during heel strike, mid support, and toe off; therefore, they all mimic barefoot running in the ankle joint.

Note on the Author

Stephanie Lloyd is a senior studying Physical Education with a concentration in Exercise Science. Her research was funded by the Adrian Tinsley Program summer 2012 grant under the mentorship of Dr. Tom Wu from the Movement Arts, Health Promotion and Leisure Studies department. Stephanie plans on presenting her research at the International Society of Biomechanics in Sports Conference in Taiwan this summer.

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