Barefoot running has been associated with decreased stride length and switching from a rearfoot strike (RFS) pattern to a mid/forefoot strike (M/FFS) pattern. However, some individuals naturally contact the ground on their mid/forefoot, even when wearing cushioned running shoes. The purpose of this study was to determine if the mechanics of barefoot running by natural shod RFS runners differed from natural shod M/FFS runners. Twenty habitually shod runners (ten natural M/FFS and ten natural RFS) participated in this study. Three-dimensional motion analysis and ground reaction force data were captured as subjects ran at their preferred running speed in both barefoot and shod conditions. M/FFS experienced only a decrease in stride length when switching from shod to barefoot running. Whereas, when switching from shod to barefoot running, RFS individuals experienced a decrease in stride length, switched to a plantarflexed position at ground contact and saw reduced impact peak magnitudes. These results suggest that when barefoot, the RFS group ran similar to the M/FFS group running barefoot or shod.
Keywords: Barefoot; Biomechanics; Foot strike; Locomotion; Running.
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