International Journal of Exercise Science 12(1): 1110-1120, 2019. Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise, thus overuse injuries such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and tibial stress fractures are also common. Barefoot/forefoot running has shown promise to reduce overuse injuries by decreasing the impact upon contact with the ground. The arch of the foot utilizes a ‘spring’ system that simultaneously reduces impact and propels the stride forward. Increased muscle activity in a particular location is indicative of greater impact forces, suggesting a larger risk for overuse injuries. The current study investigated the role of the barefoot condition on electromyography (EMG) activity in the tibialis anterior (TA) and the lateral gastrocnemius head (GAS) in recreationally active college-aged females when forefoot striking. Seventeen healthy and active female participants 18-23 years old were recruited for this study. Participants ran on a treadmill for 10 minutes in shod and barefoot conditions at 9 km/h and 1% incline. Paired t-tests were used to compare EMG values for each muscle and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) between shod and barefoot conditions. An of 3% of maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) was recorded in the TA in the barefoot condition (p= 0.04). There was a trending, though non-significant, increase of 3%MVC in GAS activity in the barefoot condition (p= 0.056). No differences in RPE were noted between conditions. Though recruitment varied (e.g. athlete vs recreational) we only found minimal differences in RPE. Caution is warranted in this population engaging in barefoot/forefoot running due to the potential increase in muscle demand, potentially leading to overuse injuries.
Beierle, Ryan; Burton, Phoebe; Smith, Hayden; Smith, Michael; and Ives, Stephen J.
"The Effect of Barefoot Running on EMG Activity in the Gastrocnemius and Tibialis Anterior in Active College-Aged Females,"
International Journal of Exercise Science: Vol. 12
1, Pages 1110 - 1120.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijes/vol12/iss1/12