Tuesday, February 2, 2010

More on Feet

There have been some interesting scientific studies released in the past week. One dealt with the hot topic of the moment-barefoot running-the other takes a look at whether distance running can stave off the effects of cellular aging (I’ll look at that one tomorrow).

Anthropologist Daniel Lieberman's article in Nature magazine discussed the results of a study where he compared the pressure patterns of Kenyan runners when running barefoot and when wearing shoes. He determined that runners who wear shoes hit the ground a lot harder on their heels than barefoot runners. He concluded that barefoot running "may protect the feet and lower limbs from some of the impact-related injuries now experienced by a high percentage of runners." The shoe industry spokespeople (sorry, I mean editors), over at runnersworld.com were quick to point out that other studies have shown that impact force is irrelevant to the development of musculoskeletal injuries. My own feeling? I think the burden should be on the shoe companies to show us that their products are beneficial. It is noteworthy that there has never been a peer reviewed study that has shown running shoes do anything to prevent injuries. Of course, while our predecessors ran barefoot and may have been forefoot strikers, we have no way of knowing what their injury rate was. I guess the shod/unshod battle will be fought for some time to come.

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