Loading rate increases during barefoot running in habitually shod runners: Individual responses to an unfamiliar condition
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The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of barefoot running on initial loading rate (LR), lower extremity joint kinematics and kinetics, and neuromuscular control in habitually shod runners with an emphasis on the individual response to this unfamiliar condition. Kinematics and ground reaction force data were collected from 51 habitually shod runners during overground running in a barefoot and shod condition. Joint kinetics and stiffness were calculated with inverse dynamics. Inter-individual initial LR variability was explored by separating individuals by a barefoot/shod ratio to determine acute responders/non-responders. Mean initial LR was 54.1% greater in the barefoot when compared to the shod condition. Differences between acute responders/non-responders were found at peak and initial contact sagittal ankle angle and at initial ground contact. Correlations were found between barefoot sagittal ankle angle at initial ground contact and barefoot initial LR. A large variability in biomechanical responses to an acute exposure to barefoot running was found. A large intra-individual variability was found in initial LR but not ankle plantar-dorsiflexion between footwear conditions. A majority of habitually shod runners do not exhibit previously reported benefits in terms of reduced initial LRs when barefoot. Lastly, runners who increased LR when barefoot reduced LRs when wearing shoes to levels similar seen in habitually barefoot runners who do adopt a forefoot-landing pattern, despite increased dorsiflexion.
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