Friday, January 29, 2010
Barefoot Running Strikes Back
If you’re a runner, to shod or not to shod is the question of the millennium. Or, at least, how to shod; high tech running shoes or something minimal? The January 28, 2010 edition of Nature provides some of the most compelling info yet. Two articles were published. The first:
Biomechanics: Barefoot running strikes back
Is the more laymen of the two, likely titled as such in response to Denis' post from a few months ago. Be warned, Nature is a science rag so it’s not like reading People. The second is more eggheadedly titled and gets down to the nitty gritty.
Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners
Both give in depth analysis to various forms of foot strike (RFS [rear foot strike, MFS [mid foot strike], FFS [front foot strike]) and its impact on the body. You’ll need a subscription to Nature to read them, but it’s worth the money if you run. You’ll save the price many times over the next time you don’t have to buy a $150 pair of shoes.
Here's a summary of the science:
Evidence that barefoot and minimally shod runners avoid RFS strikes with high-impact collisions may have public health implications. The average runner strikes the ground 600 times per kilometre, making runners prone to repetitive stress injuries6–8. The incidence of such injuries has remained considerable for 30 years despite technological advancements that provide more cushioning and motion control in shoes designed for heel–toe running27–29. Although cushioned, high-heeled running shoes are comfortable, they limit proprioception and make it easier for runners to land on their heels. Furthermore, many running shoes have arch supports and stiffened soles that may lead to weaker foot muscles, reducing arch strength. This weakness contributes to excessive pronation and places greater demands on the plantar fascia, which may cause plantar fasciitis. Although there are anecdotal reports of reduced injuries in barefoot populations30, controlled prospective studies are needed to test the hypothesis that individuals who do not predominantly RFS either barefoot or in minimal footwear, as the foot apparently evolved to do, have reduced injury rates.
pic: plus, you got to admit that the FFS looks far more graceful.