Long-term effects of school barefoot running program on sprinting biomechanics in children: A case-control study

Jun Mizushima*, Justin W.L. Keogh, Kei Maeda, Atsushi Shibata, Jun Kaneko, Keigo Ohyama-Byun, Mitsugi Ogata

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background: 

The acute changes of running biomechanics in habitually shod children when running barefoot have been demonstrated. However, the long-term effects of barefoot running on sprinting biomechanics in children is not well understood. 

Research question: 

How does four years of participation in a daily school barefoot running program influence sprint biomechanics and stretch-shortening cycle jump ability in children? 

Methods: 

One hundred and one children from barefoot education school (age, 11.2 ± 0.7 years-old) and 93 children from a control school (age, 11.1 ± 0.7 years-old) performed 50 m maximal shod and barefoot sprints and counter movement jump and five repeated-rebound jumping. To analyse sprint kinematics, a high-speed camera (240 fps) was used. In addition, foot strike patterns were evaluated by using three high-speed cameras (300 fps). Jump heights for both jump types and the contact times for the rebound jump were measured using a contact mat system. Two-way mixed ANOVA was used to examine the effect of school factor (barefoot education school vs control school) and footwear factor (barefoot vs shod) on the sprinting biomechanics. 

Results: 

Sprinting biomechanics in barefoot education school children was characterised by significantly shorter contact times (p = 0.003) and longer flight times (p = 0.005) compared to control school children regardless of footwear condition. In shod sprinting, a greater proportion of barefoot education school children sprinted with a fore-foot or mid-foot strike compared to control school children (p < 0.001). Barefoot education school children also had a significantly higher rebound jump height (p = 0.002) and shorter contact time than control school children (p = 0.001). 

Significance: 

The results suggest that school-based barefoot running programs may improve aspects of sprint biomechanics and develop the fast stretch-shortening cycle ability in children. In order to confirm this viewpoint, adequately powered randomised controlled trials should be conducted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-14
Number of pages6
JournalGait and Posture
Volume83
Early online date30 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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