The Effects of a Transition to Minimalist Shoe Running on Intrinsic Foot Muscle Size
accepted after revision 27 July 2015
28 October 2015 (eFirst)
A proposed benefit of minimalist shoe running is an increase in intrinsic foot muscle strength. This study examined change in intrinsic foot muscle size in runners transitioning to Vibram FiveFingers™ minimalist shoes compared to a control group running in traditional running shoes. We compare pre-transition size between runners who developed bone marrow edema to those who did not. 37 runners were randomly assigned to the Vibram FiveFingers™ group (n=18) or control group (n=19). Runners’ bone marrow edema and intrinsic foot muscle size were measured at baseline and after 10 weeks. Total running volume was maintained by all runners. A significant increase in abductor hallucis cross-sectional area of 10.6% occurred in the Vibram FiveFingers™ group compared to the control group (p=0.01). There was no significant change in any of the other muscles examined (p>0.05). 8 of the Vibram FiveFingers™ runners, and 1 control runner developed bone marrow edema. Those who developed bone marrow edema, primarily women, had significantly smaller size in all assessed muscles (p≤0.05). Size of intrinsic foot muscles appears to be important in safely transitioning to minimalist shoe running. Perhaps intrinsic foot muscle strengthening may benefit runners wanting to transition to minimalist shoes.