Participants who wore minimalist shoes for 70 per cent of their time when shod, for a minimum of six days a week, sore significant foot-strength gains
Stronger feet, researchers say, could help to reduce the risk of falls in the later stages of life
Wearing minimalist footwear for six months will increase foot strength by 60 per cent – and could also make you more steady on your feet. Those were the findings of new research conducted by the University of Liverpool.
The researchers set out to discover what impact wearing minimalist shoes for daily active would have on foot strength. They took 46 healthy participants and had them complete a foot strength test – measuring toe-flexion strength.
They then had half of the group wear Vivobarefoot Stealth II minimalist footwear for at least 70 per cent of the time when shod, for at least six days a week. The other half were instructed to wear their most frequently worn regular footwear to the same minimum requirements.
After six months, both groups repeated the same foot strength test. While the control group experienced no change in foot strength, those who’d worn the minimalist footwear saw their foot strength increase by 60 per cent.
The researchers concluded that ‘daily activity in minimalist footwear increases intrinsic foot muscle strength for healthy adults. Building up foot strength as a healthy adult will lead to greater foot strength in the later stages of life, likely reducing the fall risk.’
Commenting on the benefits of minimalist footwear, Dr Pete Francis, sports scientist and lecturer at Carlow Institute of Technology, said: ‘If you are considering ditching your running shoes and giving barefoot running a try, the best advice is to walk before you run.
Although minimalist shoes aren’t the same as being barefoot, the mechanics runners and walkers use in them are very similar to when barefoot – and dramatically different to when in shoes. Build up time spent barefoot gradually. People who begin by just walking around in minimalist shoes demonstrate strength gains equivalent to a time-consuming resistance training programme in as little as eight weeks.
‘Start your barefoot running journey on a grassy park where there is some give in the ground, begin with 10-15 minutes of light jogging.’
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