Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Study shows that running economy improves after 4 Weeks in Vibram FiveFingers

Monday, January 07, 2013

Study shows that running economy improves after 4 Weeks in Vibram FiveFingers

In a recent study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, it was found that the running economy of 15 experienced runners improved significantly after they followed a four-week process of gradually running more in Vibram FiveFinger shoes.

At the beginning of the study, researchers at Dublin City University measured the subjects' running economy twice...once while the subjects ran in conventional training shoes (Asics Nimbus) and once in Vibram FiveFingers. None of the runners had used FiveFingers before. When their running economy was first measured, they were slightly more economical (1.05%) in FiveFingers than when wearing the Nimbus. This finding is consistent with other studies showing slightly better economy in minimalist shoes during short tests due to the lighter weight of the shoes.

In this study, running economy was tested at paces of 11 kph and 13 kph (~7:25 and 8:45 min/mile pace). Over the four week test period, the runners gradually introduced the FiveFingers into their shoe rotation. They started with two 15-minute runs the first week, and worked up to three or four 30-minute runs by the fourth week. After four weeks, researchers found two noteworthy changes: First, the runners had become much more economical in the FiveFingers. While running at the same paces as at the beginning of the study, they were just more than 8% more economical in the FiveFingers than they had been in the same shoes at the beginning of the study.

Second, whereas at the beginning of the study the runners were just a bit more economical in FiveFingers compared to running in the Nimbus, by the end of the study that difference had increased to 6.9%.

The researchers also pointed out that the subjects were running at what for them was an easy, relaxed pace and they had shortened their stride and increased their turnover in response to the minimalist shoes. It is not known if the same economies would be present at a faster race pace.


Unknown said...

How was the economy measured? Was it based on speed or a comparison of perceived effort though HR data?

Any links to the report? Sounds like an interesting study. Thanks.

John Desmond said...