Senior Honors Projects, 2010-2019

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Department of Engineering


Olga Pierrakos

Roshna Wunderlich

Jacquelyn Nagel


Running has grown tremendously in popularity and so has running with minimalist shoes. Injuries such as plantar fasciitis (pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot) are prevalent in runners despite efforts to design footwear to alleviate the impact of running and to reduce the number of injuries. In the past decade, minimalist running shoes have received considerable attention, causing debate amongst runners and scientists as to their utility in injury prevention. While running barefoot or in minimalist shoes reduces initial impact forces, the claim that they lower injury rates remains inconclusive. It is speculated that the intrinsic muscles of the foot have an increased workload in minimalist running due to the forefoot strike that usually accompanies the use of minimalist rather than traditional shoes. These muscles may be important in supporting the bony and soft tissue structures of the foot and may help prevent inflammatory conditions such as plantar fasciitis. It is the aim of this study to design an experiment to determine how minimalist runners, in contrast to traditional and barefoot runners, use mechanisms (e.g. foot kinematics and intrinsic muscles) that influence load on the plantar fascia and therefore the acquisition or prevention of plantar fasciitis. The experiment involves participants running on a treadmill for five minute intervals barefoot and wearing traditional and minimalist running shoes. Participants were equipped with electromyography (EMG) electrodes to measure muscle activity and pressure mapping insoles to measure the force exerted over the contact area. A motion camera system was used to capture foot and ankle kinematic data. Analysis of the results were used to suggest the changes taking place in each type of footwear.



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