How Running Shoes Change The Muscles In Your Feet

Photographed by Winnie Au.
If you thought that your cushioned running shoes were designed to give your feet a break, think again. Turns out, those shoes are actually giving the muscles in your feet quite the workout.

According to a new study on the mechanics of running published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, researchers found that certain muscles along the arch of the foot were more active while running in shoes than while running barefoot.

Researchers at the University of Queensland outfitted 16 healthy volunteers with intramuscular electrodes, which were able to record muscle activity in the feet of each volunteer. Then, the researchers had the volunteers run — both barefoot and with a pair of Asics GT-2000 sneakers — on a treadmill with force sensors.

The researchers found that when the volunteers wore shoes, their arches didn’t bend as much — about 25% less than when the volunteers ran barefoot. But researchers claim that their research also shows that running shoes cause an athlete’s foot muscles to work more.

Unfortunately, there were only 16 people in the study, which means there would need to be much more research to prove this. There's also lots of research that goes against these new findings. The L.A. Times points to a 2014 study in the Journal of Sport and Health Science which suggests that runners increased the strength of their foot muscles when they wore minimal running shoes.

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