The Effect of Footwear Condition on Muscle Architecture During Walking

Open Access
Timberman, Megan Elizabeth
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Benjamin William Infantolino, Thesis Supervisor
  • Jeanne Marie Rose, Honors Advisor
  • triceps surae
  • muscle fiber length
  • elastic energy
  • gastrocnemius
  • walking
  • ultrasound
  • shod
  • barefoot
  • in vivo
Previous literature has examined the effects of footwear on economy of locomotion, but it has been limited to conditions of running. Much of this research has shown a marked difference in economy between shod conditions and minimally shod or barefoot conditions through the utilization of elastic energy storage and return. Minimally shod or barefoot conditions of running required less energy expenditure than during shod conditions. As much research on economy has focused on running performance, it is of interest to see if these or similar energy expenditure requirements would be present during walking in a barefoot condition compared to a shod condition. The present study aimed to determine muscle fascicle length changes in the muscles of the triceps surae during walking in barefoot and shod trials. Fourteen healthy subjects walked on a treadmill with natural cadence during the two conditions. In vivo techniques were used to image real-time muscle fascicle behavior of the triceps surae in order to determine the extent to which elastic energy is utilized during walking. The results of the ultrasound data suggest that there was no significant difference of muscle architecture of the medial gastrocnemius (MG) and lateral gastrocnemius (LG) muscles during shod and barefoot walking. The study design limited the ability to determine efficiency of conditions accurately. Although direct measurements of efficiency were inconclusive, inferences were made that showed a non-significant difference of muscle fascicle length between the conditions of walking and ultimately no difference in elastic energy utilization. This data may be a validation for the lack of elastic energy storage and return that occurs during walking but more studies need to be done to confirm this.