September 2013

Increased running cadence simulates some advantages of going barefoot

In the moment: Sports medicine

By Jordana Bieze Foster

The acute effects of increased running cadence are similar to those of barefoot running, according to two studies that looked at the two techniques in a single group of runners.

Researchers from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City analyzed five healthy runners, all rearfoot strikers, who ran overground under three conditions: shod at self-selected cadence, shod at a cadence 10% above preferred, or barefoot at a self-selected cadence. All participants typically trained in neutral running shoes.

Compared to normal shod running, running shod at an increased cadence and running barefoot were both associated with significant decreases in vertical loading rate, knee power, and peak knee flexion angle. The increased-cadence condition was also associated with significant decreases in peak hip adduction angle.

The findings were presented in early September at the annual meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics in Omaha, NE.


Hafer JF, Bido J, Plack LA, Metzl JD. Can increased running cadence simulate the effects of going barefoot? Presented at the American Society of Biomechanics 2013 Annual Meeting, Omaha, NE, September 2013.

Bido J, Hafer JF, Plack JA, Metzl JD. Can cadence manipulation simulate the joint loading benefits of barefoot running? Presented at the American Society of Biomechanics 2013 Annual Meeting, Omaha, NE, September 2013.

3 Responses to Increased running cadence simulates some advantages of going barefoot

  1. Craig Payne says:

    To get those decreases in load in some tissues where did they get the increases? Why not report those? You can not get a decrease in load in one set of tissues without getting an increase in others?

    Most others studies that have looked at this are showing an increase in ankle loads. Did they find that? This just shifts the injury risk from one set of tissue to another, which may be helpful clinically if there is an injury history in those tissues – it could be disastrous if it increases the load on the tissues that have the injury history.

    Other studies have also shown the decrease in peak knee loads with increased cadence, BUT, with an increased cadence, you are taking more steps, so that does not mean the cumulative loads are actually decreased or not?

    Why the obsession with decreasing vertical impact loads? The link between them and injury is tenuous at best.

    Too many questions from this one.

  2. Jordana Bieze Foster says:

    Hi Craig. Good questions, all. I can answer some of them. According to the ASB abstracts, the authors did not find any differences between conditions for power and peak flexion angle at the ankle or the hip. Also, I just returned from the International Patellofemoral Pain Research Retreat, where researchers from East Carolina University presented data suggesting that running with a shorter step length reduces patellofemoral joint force and patellofemoral joint stress both per step AND per mile – suggesting that the additional cumulative load doesn’t negate the per-step benefits, at least for that particular joint. I can send you pdfs of these abstracts if you’d like – just email me.

  3. Daya JHUGROO says:

    I am a 48 year old male running exclusively in minimalist sandals for the last two years.Been doing a few half marathons in 1hr45mins and 25k trail runs.My pair of sandals weighs 52 grams.
    I definitely have a shorter stride now than when using regular running gear.
    Found the articles very interesting indeed.
    Kind regards

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