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Does Running in Minimalist Shoes Affect the Arch of the Foot?

by Anne Bell | May 30, 2013
For immediate release:
May 30, 2013

Does Running in Minimalist Shoes Affect the Arch of the Foot? 

INDIANAPOLIS – "Barefoot" and minimalist running shoes are one of the latest trends in running gear. It’s been suggested that this type of footwear can strengthen the muscles that aren’t used when wearing traditional running shoes, causing the arch of the foot to become higher and subsequently reduce knee, soft tissue, and related injuries. In a session presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 60th Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Sarah Ridge, Ph.D., of Brigham Young University, and her colleagues will discuss their investigation of minimalist running shoes and arch height. 

"Transitioning from running in traditional running shoes to minimalist running shoes should increase muscle strength of the intrinsic foot muscles. Strength of these muscles can be difficult to measure; however, increased arch height could be an effect of increased strength. Therefore, we measured arch height before and after 10 weeks of transitioning to minimalist running shoes," said Ridge, the primary researcher. "However, our results showed no difference in arch height after the 10 weeks in either group." 

In their recent study, ten weeks of transitioning to minimalist running shoes did not cause a significant change in neutral or standing arch height, concluding that the effect of minimalist running on arch height and/or injury rates is either negligible or requires a longer exposure time for significant effects. 

"Anecdotally, we often hear that runners who wore orthotics, then transitioned to barefoot or minimalist running no longer need their orthotics— suggesting that arch height has increased. Our results do not support that, but it may take longer than 10 weeks of beginning to run in minimalist running shoes before we’d see an effect on the arch height," said Ridge. 

Ridge says the study creates an opportunity for future research on this topic. Currently, there are no suggested guidelines for transitioning to minimalist running shoes (or barefoot running). In order to create safe, effective guidelines for runners, she said, a better understanding of the intrinsic foot muscles’ response to interventions is needed. 

For more information about ACSM’s 60th Annual Meeting and World Congress on Exercise is Medicine, please visit www.acsmannualmeeting.org

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The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 50,000 international, national, and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine. The 60th ACSM Annual Meeting brings more than 6,000 physicians, scientists, educators, students and others to the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis May 28-June 1.

The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Research highlighted in this news release has been presented at a professional meeting but has not been peer-reviewed.

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