Habitual Barefoot Versus Habitual Shod Run Training Effects On Dynamic Balance
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Context: Balance and proprioception play an important role in injury prevention, sport performance and an essential factor in recovery from surgery, and improvement in activities of daily living. Previous investigations have found that an increased sensory input on the plantar surface of the foot, with textured surfaces, increased dynamic postural stability while the stimulus is applied and immediately post stimulation. Whether or not increased sensory input on the plantar surface of the foot over time will increase dynamic postural control has not been investigated. The recent increase in popularity in barefoot running presented the opportunity to assess a group who has an increased textural input on the plantar surface of the foot by barefoot running. The primary hypothesis of the present study investigated if runners who train in a barefoot condition will have an improved dynamic postural stability as compared with runners who train in traditional running shoes as measured with a modified Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT) and the Biodex Balance SD athletic single leg balance test. Objective: To investigate dynamic postural stability quantified by SEBT and Biodex Balance SD in habitual barefoot and habitual shod runners. Design: Case Control Study Setting: University Biomechanics/Athletic Training Laboratory Patients or Other Participants: 20 active runners, ten traditionally barefoot runners with age of 36.2 years ±9.95, height 173.48 cm ±8.88, weight 69.40 kg ±11.16 and averaged 25.90 km per week ±14.58, and ten shod runners with age of 28.1 years ±11.11, height 168.91 cm ±10.59, weight 66.05 kg ±15.89 and averaged 29.77 km per week ±10.99. Interventions: Each participant performed three trials in three directions of the SEBT, and three trials of athletic singles leg balance test on the Biodex Balance SD with each leg. Main Outcome Measure(s): Reach distances for each directional component of the SEBT were normalized by leg length measurements; three trial average divided by leg length multiplied by 100. Overall stability, anterior/posterior and medial/lateral indices were recorded from the Biodex Balance SD athletic single leg balance test. Results: The SEBT testing produced no significant differences (P>0.05) in the three directions. No significant difference between the groups was observed in the Biodex Balance testing in relation to Overall Stability Index (OSI), Medial/Lateral Index (MLI) or the Anterior/Posterior Index (API). However, there were significant correlations, moderate and moderately high, between each of the Biodex measures and leg length on the left and right leg with subjects with shorter leg lengths having better performance on the Biodex. Conclusions: Habitual run training in a barefoot condition does not seem to change overall dynamic postural stability as measured. Therefore, the textured sensory stimulation effect of running barefoot does not improve with training over time. Further study is needed to isolate the sensory input in more functionally appropriate testing for these groups.