The effect of minimal shoes on arch structure and intrinsic foot muscle strength
The purpose of the following study was to investigate the differences of running in minimal versus conventional shoes on intrinsic foot muscle development and longitudinal arch function. It was hypothesised that the comfort features of conventional running shoes reduce the workload of the foot’s intrinsic muscles - potentially inferring with the function and development of the arch.
33 healthy runners were randomised into a control group and an experimental group, wearing conventional and minimal support footwear respectively. All participants completed a 12-week training regime, in which an MRI was taken pre- and post-training of their feet.
Whilst both groups demonstrated an increase in cross-sectional area of flexor digitorum brevis, only the experimental group exhibited an increase in volume and area of abductor digiti minimi – along with significant increases in longitudinal arch stiffness.
These findings support the hypothesis that minimalist shoes exploits the spring-like function of the longitudinal arch, leading to greater demands of the intrinsic muscles supporting the arch, essentially strengthening the foot. > From: Lieberman, J Sport Health Sci (2014) (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to Elsevier B.V.
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