Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Gary Schindler


Cumulative Trauma Disorders -- prevention & control; Running -- injuries; Running -- physiology


Purpose/Hypothesis: Exercise has been widely accepted for its key role in disease prevention and promotion of healthy lifestyle. Due to its relative ease and low cost, running continues to be one of the most popular forms of exercise today. Although running can have a significant impact on disease prevention, injury prevalence in running is high. Barefoot running is a relatively new form of exercise that has gained popularity amongst the running community. However, enhancing muscular activity at the hip is a rehabilitation strategy, which may reduce lower extremity injury. Research investigating the hip muscle activity and movement with barefoot running is lacking in literature; thus, giving rise to the purpose of this study. This multifactorial study was performed to explore the effect of barefoot training on the muscular activity of the gluteus medius (GM) and tensor fascia latae (TFL) in addition to the degree of lateral pelvic drop. Three hypotheses are being investigated: (1) Does running barefoot increase the activity of the GM, (2) decrease the activity of the TFL (3) decrease the amount of lateral pelvic drop. These hypotheses are being examined by comparing the EMG intensity during running trials both barefoot and shod, in addition to using the VICON, a three-dimensional motion analysis system, to assess lateral pelvic tilt.

Materials/Methods: Fourteen subjects, 8 females and 6 males, with a mean age of 23.2 (1.41) completed the pre-testing electromyography (EMG) and VICON motion analyses. EMG muscle activity was recorded during a maximal isometric contraction, barefoot running and walking trial and shod running and walking trial. Lateral pelvic drop was analyzed during pre-testing with the VICON system. Subjects were randomly assigned to a barefoot running group (N=7) and shod running group (N=7). Participants completed a 6-week training program consisting of running twice a week. The first week of training will include 10 minutes of running followed by a 2- minute increase each week totaling 18 minutes of running during the final week. Following the training program, post-test EMG and VICON was performed and analyzed.

Results: No significant change in EMG activity of the GM and TFL was found between running barefoot and running shod during pre-testing and post-testing data collection. No significant training effect was found with the amount of lateral pelvic drop comparing pre- and post-testing VICON analyses.

Conclusions: Due to no statistically significant change in EMG activity of the GM and TFL during pre- and post-test trials, further research is recommended to explore the impact of a training protocol on GM and TFL muscle activity and lateral pelvic drop.

Clinical Relevance: This study provides insight to the muscle activity occurring at the hip when foot attire is altered during initial running trials. No statistically significant change was found between barefoot or shod walking and running which may indicate six weeks of training twice a week may not provide a great enough stimulus to impart significant change in muscle strength and activity. In addition, foot attire may not be a significant factor for altering the muscle activity patterns at the hip. Therefore, a greater impact may be found elsewhere, such as strike pattern rather than foot attire. Further research is recommended to study the impact of strike pattern on activity of the GM and TFL.