Runners may find that minimalist shoes improve plantar flexor strength more than conventional shoes

In August 2018 researchers from Australia and the USA published the results of their study to assess whether male runners improved their running performance when gradually transitioning to using minimalist shoes for 100% of their weekly running. A total of 50 runners who had already transitioned to minimalist or conventional shoes for 35% of their running were included in the study. Runners in each group were requested to continue running in their allocated shoe for 20 weeks and at the same time to increase the allocated shoe use to 100% of weekly training. Results showed that minimalist shoes increased plantar flexor strength more than conventional shoes when runners trained at longer distances. Although running performance and economy had initially improved with minimalist shoes when compared to conventional shoes, increasing minimalist shoe use from 35% to 100% did not further improve performance, running economy or lower limb bone mineral density. 

Fuller JT et al. Longer-term effects of minimalist shoes on running performance, strength and bone density: A 20-week follow-up study. Eur J Sport Sci. 2018 Aug 13:1-11 

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