Differences in running biomechanics between a maximal, traditional, and minimal running shoe

J Sci Med Sport. 2020 Jan;23(1):15-19. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2019.08.008. Epub 2019 Aug 13.


Objectives: Previous studies comparing shoes based on the amount of midsole cushioning have generally used shoes from multiple manufacturers, where factors outside of stack height may contribute to observed biomechanical differences in running mechanics between shoes. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare ground reaction forces and ankle kinematics during running between three shoes (maximal, traditional, and minimal) from the same manufacturer that only varied in stack height.

Design: Within-participant repeated measures METHODS: Twenty recreational runners ran overground in the laboratory in three shoe conditions (maximal, traditional, minimal) while three-dimensional kinematic and kinetic data were collected using a 3D motion capture system and two embedded force plates. Repeated measures ANOVAs (α=.05) compared biomechanical data between shoes.

Results: While the loading rate was significantly greater in the minimal shoe compared to the maximal shoe, no other differences were seen for the ground reaction force variables. Peak eversion was greater in the maximal and minimal shoe compared to the traditional shoe, while eversion duration and eversion at toe-off were greater in the maximal shoe.

Conclusions: Previously cited differences in ground reaction force parameters between maximal and traditional footwear may be due to factors outside of midsole stack height. The eversion mechanics in the maximal shoes from this study may place runners at a greater risk of injury. Disagreement between previous studies indicates that more research on maximal running shoes is needed.

Keywords: Ankle; Cushioning; Gait analysis; Loading rate; Pronation; Shoes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photography / methods
  • Running*
  • Shoes*
  • Sports Equipment*