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Justin McDougall awarded MSc with distinction

Date Released: Thu, 14 May 2015 08:54 +0200

Justin, who is now employed at King Edward School in Houghton, Johannesburg, provides the following synopsis of his study:

Running shoes are increasingly technologically advanced, however despite this, the occurrence of running based injuries appears to be increasing. This research is important, as running injuries impact health with related expenses and it prevents a large percentage of the population from partaking in physical activity (which is hugely beneficial due to the health benefits). This research is also important for the elite athletes, who depend on the smallest advantages to outperform their opponents.

This project had two key areas of focus:

a) a comparison between the biomechanical, physiological and psychophysical responses between the three most widely used footwear conditions, namely the shod, minimalist and barefoot conditions, and

b) the individual responses elicited when running with the three footwear conditions.

Overall, there were a number of similar findings to those found in previous research based in this field. A few of these similar findings (not all) are listed here:

(1) a significantly greater vertical impact loading rate when running barefoot versus running in the minimalist or shod conditions,

(2) a significantly reduced heart rate when running barefoot versus shod and

(3) a significantly reduced activation of the Tibialis Anterior when running barefoot versus shod.

The novelty of this research was the fact that a very large variability was found between and within individuals when responding to the different footwear conditions. Within this large variability of responses, there were responders and non-responders. Previously recommendations have been provided on the “mean data”, and it can be concluded from the evidence of this study that research should begin to recognise that individuals are highly variable and therefore to provide the most accurate recommendations, these should be based on the individual.

Participant ready to complete the minimal footwear condition

Participant ready to complete the barefoot condition on the treadmill


Congratulations to Justin, and to Andrew Todd who supervised this study.

Justin will graduate in 2016, as his examiners reports were submitted too late for him to graduate in 2015.