Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Minimalist Shoe Strengthen Toe Muscles

A new study supports the idea that minimalist shoes strengthens small muscles in the foot better then traditional running shoes. However, it adds another dimension: large gains in toe flexor muscles were found in those who wore minimalist shoes for short duration athletic movements.
The study was published in Footwear Science and conducted by German researchers, who divided 47 women into three groups. Two groups did 30 minutes of "high-intensity athletic training" five times a week for three weeks. Half of them wore their regular running shoes, while the other half wore Nike Free 3.0 shoes. The third group did not train.
This is how the researchers describe the training:
Exercises consisted of strength and agility tasks chosen to increase the number of push-offs per week and therefore the mechanical loading on the forefoot. In total, athletes executed approximately 5,000-6,000 intensive push-offs within three weeks (15 training sessions). The training program consisted of running, sprinting, and jumping drills (e.g. zig-zag run, the direction changes, sprinter-ABC, one-and-two legged rope skipping, cutting maneuvers  one-and-two-legged standing vertical and horizontal jumps, running upstairs and downstairs, and slalom racing). The exercises were performed on an indoor artificial surface. All exercises were accomplished with the highest possible intensity.
Before and after the three week training program, the researchers measured the subject's toe flexor strength with several tests. The toe flexors are crucial during push-off and when stronger, they are able to give a better push-off and be less inclined to injury. 
For those who wore the Nike Free 3.0, toe flexor strength increased 13-20%, while those who wore traditional sneakers saw an increase of 7-16%. 
This study is important because it shows that even when not used for running specifically, minimalist shoes can strengthen other parts of your body. 
Reference: Runner's World 
If you are a runner and have a foot problem, call our Newington, Kensington, or Middletown office to make an appointment.
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Sports Medicine Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington
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