A Case Study Comparing Minimalist Design Running Shoes with Traditional Motion Control Foam Core Running Shoes
The purpose of this study was to examine and compare the relative benefits of traditional motion-control running shoe design and the contemporary trend toward a minimalist shoe. Proponents of minimalist design claim that the lower heel and freedom of movement inherent in its lighter design promotes proper biomechanics and results in greater efficiency while advocates of the more traditional motion control foam core running shoe point to the advantages of greater stability and cushioning to prevent injury. The study consisted of a total of four phases where the subjects first ran in traditional motion control foam core shoes over a given distance and at a constant perceived level of effort and then were switched to minimalist shoes. Each phase consisted of a set of at least 9 different workouts distributed over a three-week period of time. Each workout consisted of the participant running 4 intervals of either 800 meter or 1600 meter distances. Phase One was an adjustment to the study protocol. In Phase Two the subjects ran in their usual foam core running shoes. Phase Three was an adjustment to the minimalist shoes done through alternating foam core and minimalist shoes. Phase Four consisted of running solely in the minimalist shoe. The 29 runners measured in the study were all able to demonstrate that they ran faster using the minimalist running shoes when compared to their traditional foam core shoes. These results confirm that at a comparable perceived effort, when the performance of athletes using a minimalist shoe was compared with the performance of the same athlete using tradition motion control foam core shoes, the performance measured in minimalist running shoes demonstrated greater speed and efficiency.