Effects of Wearing Athletic Shoes, Five-Toed Shoes, and Standing Barefoot on Balance Performance in Young Adults.     

Authors: Smith BS, Burton B, Johnson D, Kendrick S, Meyer E, Yuan W

Almost all research using participants wearing barefoot-style shoes study elite runners or have participants with a history of barefoot style shoe training run on a treadmill when shod or barefoot.  Wearing barefoot-style shoes is suggested as a method of transition between shod and barefoot running.  Static and dynamic balance exercises also are recommended. However, little information is available on the effects five-toed barefoot style shoes have on static balance. The purpose of this study was to examine balance of subjects barefoot, wearing Vibram FiveFingers™ barefoot-style shoes, and regular athletic shoes with eyes closed when using the Biodex Balance System-SD™. The authors found that for anterior-posterior and overall indices, differences were present between all conditions. Participants wearing athletic shoes demonstrated the smallest anterior-posterior stability index (least sway) and spent the most time in the innermost concentric circular zone. Medial-lateral indices were not different for any condition. The authors concluded that wearing Vibram FiveFingers™ provided better overall and anterior-posterior static balance than going barefoot.  While these measures between Vibram FiveFingers™ and barefoot were significantly different, results may reflect statistical significance rather than any clinical difference in young, uninjured individuals.

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