The purpose of this study was to compare joint moments during the active peak vertical ground reaction force (PVGRF) when running in three conditions. Twenty-five subjects, sixteen male and nine female, were measured using 3-dimensional motion analysis while running barefoot, in Vibram FiveFingers® (VF®) minimalist running shoes and in traditional running shoes at a 7-minute-mile pace (3.84 m/s). Joint moment differences were calculated and compared using a mixed model analysis of variance. Results showed the VF® was effective at mimicking both the kinetic and kinematic attributes of barefoot running. The only significant difference found when comparing barefoot and VF® running was in the ankle angle (p < .005). All other variables in the lower extremity were the same for the two conditions. Though the subjects in our study had no previous experience with VF® (or barefoot) running they were able to closely mimic barefoot running upon initial running trials. Joint moments at the ankle were higher for barefoot and VF® running (p < .001) when compared with shod running. This may potentially lead to a greater risk of injury at the ankle joint when running barefoot or in VF®. The hip joint moments were only different when comparing the barefoot condition to the shod condition (p=.002), with the barefoot condition higher than shod running. The knee joint moment was smaller during the VF® and barefoot conditions when compared with shod running (p < .001) and may lead to a decrease in injury rates at the knee. Though a reduction in moments of the lower extremity may lead to a decrease of injury at the corresponding joint, it is important to consider the adaptations that take place as a result of varying stresses. According to Wolff's law, bone and surrounding tissue will adapt to the loads it is placed under. Taking this into consideration, it is important to remember that lower moments may lead to weaker bones and surrounding tissues and without compensation for these reduced loads, injury rates may remain the same over time.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Exercise Sciences



Date Submitted


Document Type





joint moment, active peak vertical ground reaction force