Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Gary Schindler


Purpose/Hypothesis: Running has been a common practice in humans since the species’ dawn. Due to its relative ease and low cost, running continues to be one of the most popular forms of exercise today. Although running provides many benefits such as disease prevention, injury prevalence in running is high. The trend of minimalist shoes and barefoot training has gained popularity over the decade as a return to a more natural form of running. Some researchers hypothesize that barefoot running can reduce injury rate by changing the biomechanics of the runner. In this study we propose a different hypothesis: barefoot running changes activity of musculature of the hip, increasing activation in muscles that are commonly weak in injured runners. 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 running on the muscular activity of the gluteus medius (GM) and tensor fascia latae (TFL). The hypothesis being tested was that barefoot running would increase the muscle activity of GM and decrease the muscle activity of TFL.

Materials/Methods: Twenty-six subjects, 20 females and 6 males, with a mean age of 22.8 completed the electromyography (EMG) analyses. EMG muscle activity of TFL and GM was recorded during a maximal isometric contraction, a barefoot running and walking trial and a shod running and walking trial.

Results: There was a significant difference in change of EMG activity were noted when comparing R TFL running shod vs. R TFL running barefoot (p<0.05). There was no other significant data when comparing barefoot running, shod running, GM or TFL activity.

Conclusions: Even though there was no statistical significance in the electrical activity of bilateral GM and the L TFL, the mean average of the peak muscle contractions was greater during barefoot running vs. shod running. Further research is recommended to explore the impact of a barefoot training protocol on GM and TFL muscle activity.

Clinical Relevance: This study provides insight to the muscle activity occurring at the hip when foot attire is altered during training. No statistically significant change was found between barefoot or shod-groups. This lack of statistical significance may have been due to lack of statistical power, as the number of subjects was low. This may have also been attributed to the imprecise data received for initial contact. While there were no statistically significant findings, trends in the data pointed towards a greater change in GM and TFL activity for the barefoot group. Replicating the study with a higher number of subjects may yield significant results in future research.