Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Touch and Go #9

Posted by speedygeoff On Wednesday, June 09, 2010 | 1 comment

Conclusion and Practical implications:
This study provides further evidence to some of the issues discussed previously in regards to barefoot running. For runners, the major implication could be on foot strike. It’s more than just barefoot running, it’s footstrike that matters. A lot of the differences in collision force are due to footstrike variations. For years, shoe companies and others have said that heel striking is the way to go. Elite runner Mark Plaatjes even made the same argument earlier this week in a well written paper. Lieberman’s article helps lend credence to what I and many others have always speculated. It’s not.

The human body was designed to run with a forefoot/midfoot strike and shoes cause us to run barefoot. In one of the nature barefoot articles there is a great picture illustrating this (above). It is of 2 Kenyan boys running on a dirt road. One is barefoot and landing whole foot, one in shoes, slamming his heel into the ground first. Shoes decrease proprioception, change ankle kinematics and allow the body to change its landing habits.

Therefore, the major finding is that footstrike may be more important than running barefoot or not. Granted running midfoot is hard with heavy shoes. The study shows that footstrike was what mattered. Barefoot runners who landed heel first still had much higher impact forces than when striking forefoot/midfoot. Similarly, the rate of loading was still much higher in barefoot heel strikers than barefoot forefoot strikers. This finding that footstrike matters is something that track coaches have been saying for decades. One of my big mentors, Tom Tellez, has been preaching this for a long time.

More focus should be focused on changing footstrike with barefoot/minimalist running used as a way to aid that change.

A change to barefoot running should be accompanied by a change in running style to a midfoot/wholefoot/forefoot one. For information on how you should run read this (here)  and watch these (here and here) (no I don't think Pose or Chi are wonderful...)

Lastly, I think the take away message is that the human body is more complex than we give it credit for. The fact that it alters footstrike and pre-activation and numerous other mechanisms based on what is on the shoe or what ground you are going to strike is amazing. Think about that for a second. A couple years back Adidas tried to sell a shoe with an expensive microchip that adjusted cushioning each stride. The shoe cost several hundred dollars. The problem is, we already have a mechanism that does that for free….ourselves!

Lastly, a word of caution. This study will catch on fire. The major newsgrabbing headline will be the impact forces. However, that is likely a gross oversimplification of the process. Like with other variables (VO2max, lactate,etc.) don't get tied to one while missing the big picture.

If you enjoyed this or any other article, please help get the information out there and pass it on. Much appreciated.

To read more about barefoot running and running shoes read the below article on Why Running shoes do not work:
http://stevemagness.blogspot.com/2010/01/why-running-shoes-do-not-work-looking.html

from Science of Running by Steve Magness. To be continued...

Debbie

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