BACKGROUND: Barefoot runners have a higher probability of lower leg and foot disorders compared to runners wearing traditional running shoes. However, the site of muscle stress due to barefoot running has not been reported. This study aimed to investigate the effects of shod and barefoot running on muscle mechanical properties. METHODS: Atotal of 18 healthy male subjects were included in this study and were assigned to either the shod running group or the barefoot running group. While the shod group ran on the treadmill at a speed of 75% heart rate reserve for 45 min with shoes, the barefoot group ran without shoes after warm-up session. As an index of muscle stiffness, the shear wave velocity (SWV) of the eleven lower extremity muscles were measured at rest before and after exercise using shear wave elastography. RESULTS: The tibialis posterior SWV was increased after running in the shod (3.67±0.41 m/s to 3.90±0.45 m/s) and barefoot (3.70±0.36 m/s to 4.02±0.54 m/s) groups. In contrast, the vastus lateralis SWV was increased only in the shod group (2.62±0.32 m/s to 2.80±0.34 m/s), while the peroneus muscle SWV increased only in the barefoot group (3.24±0.48 m/s to 3.50±0.55 m/s and 2.92±0.5 m/s to 3.11±0.49 m/s for the superficial and deep layers, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: The shod condition selectively influences changes in the stiffness of the vastus lateralis and peroneus muscles during running but has no effect on the tibialis posterior.
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