Young adults performance of unipedal dynamic balance with various footwear conditions

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Smith, Barbara S.
Hartman, Alice H.
Martin, David M.
Milford, Jeremy A.
Simmonds, Jacob A.
Truong, Chris R.

Smith, B. S., Hartman, A. H., Martin, D. M., Milford, J. A., Simmonds, J. A., & Truong, C. R. (2020). Young Adults Performance of Unipedal Dynamic Balance with Various Footwear Conditions. International journal of exercise science, 13(4), 206–215.


Wearing barefoot-style (minimalist) shoes is suggested as a transition between wearing shoes and barefoot running. Some sources equate wearing Vibram FiveFingers™(VFFs), a brand of barefoot shoes, with running/walking barefoot. Static and dynamic balance exercises are recommended. Little information is available on the effects barefoot shoes may have on dynamic balance. This study’s purpose was to examine dynamic balance when participants wore VFFs, athletic shoes, or went barefoot (BF). To test dynamic balance, participants used a modified version of the Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT), in which the reaching leg followed only three spokes of the test: the anterior, posteromedial and posterolateral. For the timed test, participants touched down as quickly as possible in both directions using all 8 spokes. Thirty participants (ages 24.1+/−3.71 years) without lower extremity injury or experience wearing minimalist shoes were tested using the modified SEBT and a timed test wearing VFFs™, athletic shoes, or BF. Three trials for each footwear were completed for three reaching positions: anterior, posterolateral, posteromedial. The timed test measured (seconds) one counterclockwise and one clockwise direction of the 8-spoke figure. A repeated measures analysis of variance determined if any differences existed between footwear type and studied variables. Anterior reach was significantly greater when wearing shoes than with VFF or BF. Posteromedial reach was greater with shoes than BF. Time trials were not significantly different. Because no difference was found in any measured variables between VFF and BF, the results suggest wearing VFFS™ provided similar dynamic balance as going barefoot.

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