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Effects of barefoot and shod running on lower extremity joint loading, a musculoskeletal simulation study



The aim of the current investigation was to utilize a musculoskeletal simulation-based approach, to examine the effects of barefoot and shod running on lower extremity joint loading during the stance phase.


Twelve male runners, ran over an embedded force plate at 4.0 m/s, in both barefoot and shod conditions. Kinematics of the lower extremities were collected using an eight-camera motion capture system. Lower extremity joint loading was also explored using a musculoskeletal simulation and mathematical modelling approach, and differences between footwear conditions were examined using paired samples t tests.


Peak Achilles tendon force was significantly larger (P = 0.039) when running barefoot (6.85 BW) compared to shod (6.07 BW). In addition, both medial (P = 0.013) and lateral (P = 0.007) tibiofemoral instantaneous load rates were significantly larger in the barefoot (medial 289.17 BW/s and lateral 179.59 BW/s) in relation to the shod (medial 167.57 BW/s and lateral 116.40 BW/s) condition. Finally, the barefoot condition (9.70 BW) was associated with a significantly larger (P = 0.037) peak hip force compared to running shod (8.51 BW).


The current investigation indicates that running barefoot may place runners at increased risk from the biomechanical factors linked to the etiology of chronic lower extremity pathologies. However, future analyses using habitual barefoot runners, are required before more definitive affirmations regarding injury predisposition can be made.

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We thank Gareth Shadwell for his technical assistance.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jonathan Sinclair.

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We declare that we have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The current research project was approved by an institutional ethical panel. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and the Declaration of Helsinki.

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All of the subjects provided written consent.

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Sinclair, J. Effects of barefoot and shod running on lower extremity joint loading, a musculoskeletal simulation study. Sport Sci Health 14, 485–494 (2018).

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  • Biomechanics
  • Barefoot
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Joint