Saturday, August 14, 2010

Shoes. Do we really need them?

Picked up an article in Men'sHealth (UK)

Man did not evolve with a pair of Nike Air Zooms on his feet. Our ancestors did not lace up before sprinting over the plains in search of a square meal. Yet for the last half century, conventional running science has told us to cushion our feet with the latest running shoes before we even think of heading to the common. The question is, do we really need them?

There are those who argue no, scorn these cushion comforts and tread the dust shoeless. In the 1960 Rome Olympics, Abebe Bikila, accepted as the greatest marathon runner of all time, won gold in a record-breaking time of 2:15:16, and did it without trainers. You probably won’t leave Bikila’s time biting the dust, but losing your running shoes may just see you run further and with greater efficiency than ever before. More running won’t do your health any harm either; studies have shown its benefits range from reduced risk of cancer to an improvement in your social life.

Even science has gone barefoot recently. New research from evolutionary biologists at Harvard University outlined the difference between those shod and those not. Study author Professor Daniel Lieberman explains, “By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than shod runners get when they heel-strike.”

When most people run, the heel of their foot hits the floor first. This collision is the equivalent of someone hitting your heel with a sledgehammer with up to three times your body weight, Lieberman says. Scientists believe that reducing your heel-striking by going bare leaves you less prone to everyday runners’ ailments, such as shin splints or joint pain
Read the rest of the story here

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