Monday, June 10, 2013

Barefoot running...lit review

I am pretty set in my ways and never caught on to the minimalist or barefoot running technique, despite some friends who insist on it.  I'd actually forgotten the whole issue until a few days ago when I saw a gentleman character running barefoot on a treadmill at the gym.  Yes, gross and confusing at the same time. 

So I did a little more looking into this barefoot running thing.  Reading about it in a popular magazine is somehow just not satisfying.  To the library, then, to investigate how the scientists study these matters!

The take home message in the study I read (Altman and Davis, above) regardless of the shoes you have?  No more heel strike for you...heel strike was linked to elevated pressure in the front of the lower leg (since you have to keep your tibialis anterior contracted to maintain dorsiflexion, I assume), and injury in general occurred 2.5 times more frequently than in people running with midfoot and forefoot strike.  We're talking back, hip, knee, ankle and foot pain, derived from the increased transmission of ground forces through your bones and joints when heel striking.

All that being studied, I've decided to stick with my shod ways.  I am not particularly a heel-striker.  The change I've made, though, is to completely avoid using that treadmill in the gym...

Of course, the researchers admitted that long-term top-tier research studies on this shod vs barefoot subject just don't exist yet.  I'm willing to collect some data and do some research:

Gonna need some input from minimalist types, subjectively, what benefits do you derive?