There has been much debate on whether barefoot running is really beneficial to runners. To those who strongly advocate it say that it is the natural form of running and it eliminates common injuries. They are even blaming our running shoes for the injuries we get because these shoes drives impact on the heel and not in the forefoot. Runners World recently published an article on barefoot running showing the two sides of the issue.
But just recently a study from a prestigious science journal could shake the whole running community with its findings on barefoot running. The breakthrough research led by Harvard Scientist Dr. Daniel E.Lieberman has been released by a prestigious research journal – NatureMagazine. It's science talking with all the hard evidence. What were the findings?
The paper is entitled "Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners." That's a long title but its very common in science journals. My unfinished MSECE thesis has 15 words in the title.
The Study and the benefits
In this study, Dr. Lieberman and his colleagues proved that humans can run comfortably and safely even in none or in minimal footwear. Though makers of athletic shoes don’t cease in producing a steady stream of improved models designed to cushion and correct the feet, experts say that injuries, like those involving the knee and Achilles’ tendon, haven’t minimized.
Dr. Lieberman and his team studied five groups of people to differentiate the running style of shod and unshod runners. These groups are:
- US adult athletes who had always worn shoes;
- US adult runners who grew up wearing shoes but now run barefoot or with minimal footwear;
- Kenyan adult runners who grew up barefoot but now wear cushioned running shoes;
- Kenyan adolescents who have never worn shoes; and
- Kenyan adolescents who have worn shoes for most of their lives.
They were tested at endurance speeds between 4 to 6 meters per second in both indoor and outdoor environment. The result, most shod runners strike their heels when they run making them prone to repetitive stress injuries while those who run barefoot tend to land safely toward the middle or the front of their feet causing less force to the feet.
Check the video below. It shows a convincing evidence on how damaging heel strikes can be.
As you can see in the video, heel striking is painful when running barefoot or in minimal shoes “because it causes a large collisional force each time a foot lands on the ground.” But natural barefoot runners tend to point their toes more at landing which allow them to adjust leg stiffness depending on the surface.
An addition, the study found that there’s no significant difference when landing on hard surfaces or soft surfaces.
Now that there is a strong scientific evidence, how will it change the way we run?
Well, to start with, there are already shoes in the market that mimics or promotes barefoot running. There's the Nike Free, Vibram 5-Fingers, and Newton Shoes.
But wait, there's more.
New Balance researchers are now studying the biomechanics of runningbarefoot and in soles of varying thickness. Asics is also considering amore minimal style in manufacturing their shoes.
However, I don't expect to see marathons that will have a lot of barefoot runners.
In my next post, I will share some tips to start running barefoot and I'll tell you why I won't run barefoot yet even if I am convinced with the research and it's evidence.
Check out Christopher McDougall's book entitled Born To Run. Talks a lot about barefoot running.
Book Description from Amazon.com: Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.NOW AVAILABLE. TAKBO.PH COTTON TEES AND HOODIES. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ORDER.
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