Give up running shoes
Running shoes get increasingly high tech, adding in microchips so that they can calculate how much to cushion the impact when the foot touches the ground. For half a century the latest shoes have been heralded as the way to avoid injuries. But could the opposite be the case and it be the shoes that are causing the injuries? Increasingly research is showing that wearing shoes forces us to run in an unnatural way that causes the injuries. Instead running barefoot , or with very limited footwear, is much less injury prone.
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The Tarahumra tribe run huge distances, but sustain far less injuries without running shoes.
The Tarahumra, a remote tribe in Mexico, can run well over a 100 miles in one race with only thin hard sandals for protection. Many are able to continue running into old age with little injury. It is argued that the Tarahumra's running style allows them to run with such little cushioning. By using the front of their feet, the Tarahumra experience far softer landing, reducing forces transferred through the leg. This is though to be the reasoning behind their longevity.
Running shoes create extra torques that place the body under further stress.
The built up nature of modern running shoes elevates the foot from the floor creating extra stresses for the body to deal with. The higher up a shoe is built, the further away from the floor the foot becomes. This means the body has to cope with the extra twisting faced by the substantial cushioning provided by the shoe, adding new stresses to the knees and ankles.
The runner subconsciously creates a harder than necessary landing while wearing built-up running shoes.
While running in built-up running shoes, the runner relaxes under the extra cushioning provided by the shoes. Because the runner is aware that much of the shock will be absorbed by the shoe, they begin to run in an unnatural style. A runner in bare feet on hard surfaces will prepare themselves before each foot lands in order to minimise the shock. However, a runner in built-up shoes will not do this because they already know the landing will not be anywhere near as severe. Therefore, rather paradoxically, the runner in the built-up running shoe, will actually create a landing that subjects the body to larger stresses than the runner in barefoot.
The army run in boots that have minimal cushioning.
For decades the army have trained in boots that have had minimal cushioning. They still continue to use this style of boot even though there have been the advancements in running shoe technology. Because they run in these minimally cushioned boots, recruits run in a similar way to the Tarahumara with smaller strides and the weight distributed onto the ball of the foot.
There is very little scientific evidence to prove that running shoes work.
Although running shoes are becoming ever more elaborate, there is actually very little in the way of scientific evidence to back up the justification of built-up running shoes. A study by a Dutch team examined over 1000 journal articles and papers on running injures and found that only 17 that didn't contain bad science or poor design [[http://peakperformance.runnersworld.com/2010/01/ive-spent-the-last-several-months-buried-in-research-papers-about-running-injuries-and-their-causes-for-a-story-that-will-a.html]]. This highlights the lack of quality knowledge on the subject. Many researchers do not know enough to determine whether or not these shoes work because the research that has been compiled simply isn't good enough.
The lack of scientific knowledge of running injuries also works the other way. Just as there is little research on whether built-up running shoes work, there is also a lack of good quality research into whether minimal shoes or bare feet can prevent injuries. Quite simply nobody really knows either way whether running prevent or cause injuries.
Expensive running shoes are simply a way for companies to make money out of runners.
The fact that any able bodied human is able to run anywhere without any specialist equipment means it is hard for companies to make money out of the sport. However, sports equipment companies cannot ignore the huge popularity and potential market the sport provides. Apart from clothing, which is relatively low-cost, shoes are easily the biggest expense for the runner to participate in the sport. Its is only a natural progression of shoes companies reacting to such a large market to provide such intricate and technologically advanced shoes. Because the market is so large, shoe companies know that there are enough people who participate in the sport to buy the more expensive products, even if the scientific knowledge is lacking.
Nobody knows whether or not running injuries are increasing.
The definition of a running injury is quite ambiguous. There isn't an accepted method of defining running injuries among researchers and medics. Therefore it is difficult to determine whether or not an injury is directly related to running, which makes it even harder to assess whether there is any fluctuation in the occurrence of running injuries[[http://peakperformance.runnersworld.com/2010/01/ive-spent-the-last-several-months-buried-in-research-papers-about-running-injuries-and-their-causes-for-a-story-that-will-a.html]]
Also, the rise in popularity of running has occurred across all sections of society. There are increasing numbers of novice runners who have previously had little to do with sport. The influx of these runners may skew any perception that injuries are increasing in runners. These runners may have sustained these injuries because of their lack of experience rather than anything to do with the shoes.
Many peope wouldn't be able to transfer to non-cushioned shoes without sustaining injury.
While those more experienced runners who have the knowledge of different running styles know how to adopt the style of the Tarahumara, those novice runners wouldn't know how to adopt this new technique. Particularly those more casual runners trying to get fit who don't exactly follow the Tarahumara physique, it may prove dangerous to run without the cushioning. An overweight or novice runner would need to use the cushioning to act as a safety barrier to allow for the extra stress caused by poor technique or excess weight. Removing this safety barrier would only help to speed up the rate of injuries sustained by the impact of the running.
What do you think?