Surface Stiffness and Footwear Affect the Loading Stimulus for Lower Extremity Muscles When Running

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


Research units


Willwacher, S, Fischer, KM, Rohr, E, Trudeau, MB, Hamill, J, and Brüggemann, G-P. Surface stiffness and footwear affect the loading stimulus for lower extremity muscles when running. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000-000, 2020-Running in minimal footwear or barefoot can improve foot muscle strength. Muscles spanning the foot and ankle joints have the potential to improve performance and to reduce overuse injury risk. Surface stiffness or footwear use could modify the intensity of training stimuli acting on lower extremity joints during running. The purpose of this study was to systematically investigate external ankle, knee, and hip joint moments during shod and barefoot running while considering the stiffness of the running surface. Two footwear conditions (barefoot and neutral running shoe) and 4 surface conditions (Tartan, Tartan + Ethylene Vinyl Acetate [EVA] foam, Tartan + artificial turf, Tartan + EVA foam + artificial turf) were tested at 3.5 m·s. Repeated measures analysis of variance revealed that barefoot running in general and running barefoot on harder surfaces increased and decreased ankle (between +5 and +26%) and knee (between 0 and -11%) joint moments, respectively. Averaged over all surfaces, running barefoot was characterized by a 6.8° more plantarflexed foot strike pattern compared with running shod. Foot strike patterns were more plantarflexed on harder surfaces; the effects, however, were less than 3°. Most surface effects were stronger in barefoot compared with shod running. Surface stiffness may be used to modulate the loading intensity of lower extremity muscles (in particular extrinsic and intrinsic foot muscles) during running. These results need to be considered when coaches advise barefoot running as a method to improve the strength of extrinsic and intrinsic foot muscles or when trying to reduce knee joint loading.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association
VolumePublish Ahead of Print
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 04.02.2020

ID: 5233902

View graph of relations