Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Harvard University on Barefoot Running

I've been blabbering about going barefoot and why forefoot strike is better than rearfoot strike (or heel strike)  Where is the proof? you say.  Good thing a Harvard University professor did all the dirty work so I don't have to convince you

This clearly shows that the initial collision force of a heel strike is 1.81 (X body weight).  This is similar to having someone hitting your heel with a hammer 1.5 to 3 times your body weight.  While a forefoot strike yielded 0.34 (X body weight).  Now that says a lot.

You can read the rest here but let me save you to a possible nosebleed.  So here's a quick summary --
Our research asked how and why humans can and did run comfortably without modern running shoes. We tested and confirmed what many people knew already: that most experienced, habitually barefoot runners tend to avoid landing on the heel and instead land with a forefoot or midfoot strike. The bulk of our published research explores the collisional mechanics of different kinds of foot strikes. We show that most forefoot and some midfoot strikes (shod or barefoot) do not generate the sudden, large impact transients that occur when you heel strike (shod or barefoot). Consequently, runners who forefoot or midfoot strike do not need shoes with elevated cushioned heels to cope with these sudden, high transient forces that occur when you land on the ground. Therefore, barefoot and minimally shod people can run easily on the hardest surfaces in the world without discomfort from landing. If impact transient forces contribute to some forms of injury, then this style of running (shod or barefoot) might have some benefits, but that hypothesis remains to be tested
Still doubtful about barefoot running?  The next time you hit the gym, run barefoot on a treadmill.  Let me know the results


Anonymous said...

If this is the case, then why are all the running injury clinics seeing so many barefoot runners with injuiries?

Daves said...

too much of a good thing would always turn out bad. it should always be taken in moderation. some that i've seen were doing it too much, too hard, and too soon

barefoot running is no holy grail. it doesn't prevent you from running injuries. this is the misconception

however it offers so much to those who transition well. i've tried cushioning and stability shoes in the past and minimalist shoes took my shin splints away

thanks for dropping by

Ronald Carr said...

I think barefoot running is only applicable when you are running on smooth surfaces, hence it prevents you from getting injuries. I actually tried and it was okay. However, I prefer to run wearing barefoot shoes instead like Vibram Five Fingers or Kigo Shel. They both mimic the feeling of running barefoot, plus, with added protection since you are not totally running your own feet. You can also read a great article on Barefoot shoes versus Barefoot here.

Ken Schafer said...

The reasons so many barefoot runners get injuries are because, they do not learn to run with good technique and they don't take time to build up their feet and calves before trying to go barefoot. You can't just kick off your shoes and expect to magically start running well. Especially if you've spent most of your life in shoes.

Daves said...

Ken, thank you for putting it so well

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