Abby Zeltmann1, Kayla Lapointe1, & Dave P. Heller1

1Rockhurst University, Kansas City, Missouri.

Gait biomechanics change when one is shod (S) compared to when barefoot (BF). The speed at which one transitions from a walking gait to a running gait is due to many factors including gait biomechanics and running economy. To our knowledge, no one has investigated the effect that BF vs. S conditions have on gait transition speed (GTS). Previous research on the relationship between BF gait and rated perceived exertion (RPE) has yielded mixed results. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of BF vs. S conditions on GTS and RPE. METHODS: Ten participants (5 M, 5 F; 26 + 10 years old; 1.74 + 0.10 m; 69.9 + 14.7 kg; BMI: 23.0 + 3.9 kg/m^2; leg length: 0.89 + 0.06m) volunteered for this study. We calculated each participant’s Froude number (the maximum walking speed possible according solely to physics) using the length of the lower extremity. Each participant underwent 2 randomly determined trial conditions (BF, S) on a treadmill at least 1 week apart. Subjects warmed up for 5 minutes at a self-selected walking speed. Speeds were randomly changed every 30 seconds for a total of 15 minutes. Speeds ranged from 40-110% of the participant’s Froude number. For each interval, we categorized the gait (walking or running) and footstrike pattern (heel, midfoot, or forefoot), and recorded the RPE. We determined GTS by placing the speeds in order from slowest to fastest and averaging the slowest and fastest speeds at which a transition occurred between walking and running. We compared GTS as quantified by the % of the subject’s Froude number and RPE in the BF and S conditions using paired t-tests. We used Pearson’s correlation to investigate the relationship between GTS and average RPE over the entire test. RESULTS: We found GTS to be significantly lower in BF condition vs. S (67.1 + 6.4% vs. 71.7 + 6.4%; p = 0.002). Additionally, the average RPE over the entire test was significantly higher in BF condition vs. S (9.5 + 2.0 vs. 9.0 + 1.8; p = 0.022). GTS and average RPE were significantly negatively correlated, though only moderately-to-weakly (r = -0.4894; p = 0.014). CONCLUSION: Subjects perceived BF running as more difficult, and GTS was at a lower speed for BF vs. S. Shoes need to be considered when considering factors which influence gait transitions. One possible reason for a lower GTS in the BF condition could be the increase in RPE compared to S.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: This study was partially supported by a Dean’s Undergraduate Fellowship from Rockhurst University.

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