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A Great Article on Running Shoes & Injury

April 23, 2009

Thanks to Kenny K. for passing this article about running shoes and injury to the LARD coaches.

This is a must read if you think those clunky trainers you bought for your workouts are preventing injury.

Jeff Pisciotta, the senior researcher at Nike Sports Research Lab, assembled 20 runners on a grassy field and filmed them running barefoot.

When he zoomed in, he was startled by what he found. Instead of each foot clomping down as it would in a shoe, it behaved like an animal with a mind of its own – stretching, grasping, seeking the ground with splayed toes, gliding in for a landing like a lake-bound swan.

‘It’s beautiful to watch,’ Pisciotta later told me. ‘That made us start thinking that when you put a shoe on, it starts to take over some of the control.’

Kenny asked for my comments on the article.  Here was my response:

I read that article this morning.  Yes, I concur.  Running shoes do not prevent injury, rather they may promote injury.  Why?  Running shoes are built up to promote improper running because they build up all of the paddling/cushioning in the heel.  This encourages runners to land on their heels first, which in my opinion, and people that are actually experts, causes injury.  This also promotes slower running as if someone is a heel-striker (lands heel first), their leg is fully extended at initial impact – causing unnecessary stress to the leg/knee/hips.  Then the body has to propel itself over the straight leg.  This process is similar to applying a parking break after every impact/landing.

Rather, the solution is to land midfoot (some believe forefoot (see Pose Running)).  Why?  if you land midfoot, you are absorbing the impact with your anatomy – knees bent, arches taking some impact.  Your body is also in a better position as your center of gravity is either over your feet/legs or slightly ahead of it.  There is no “parking brake” effect on the stride.

How do you know what the proper technique is?  The simple solution is to try and sprint barefoot in the grass.  You will naturally land on your mid/forefoot.  Duplicate this feeling on your runs.  It is not an easy process, but well worth the effort.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. yang permalink
    April 24, 2009 6:54 pm

    That’s a really good article.

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