Showing posts with label running injuries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label running injuries. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Are Running Shoes Killing your Feet?

If you are a runner who suffers from running injuries, it's possible that your shoes could be at fault, no matter how fancy or expensive they are. In fact, some research even suggests that the more expensive the shoe, the more frequent the injuries. The research suggests that athletic shoe manufacturers may have been "getting it wrong" for years – designing running shoes that, though intended to reduce running injuries, may have in fact increased injuries.

Before starting running, or before you go another painful step with your current running program, pay attention to this recent data. You may save yourself from injury.

Running Benefits vs. Running Injuries

In recent years, an increasing amount of data is changing the way that running shoes are built, largely in response to a growing demand for a more minimalist style of shoe. One of the initial drivers in this change toward less structured, more minimalist shoes was Christopher McDougall's research suggesting that human beings are physiologically designed for running.

McDougall's search to find a way to run with less pain and injury became an actual journey around the globe, leading him to discover that:
  • There is little evidence that running shoes prevent injuries.
  • Some of the world's greatest modern-day runners run barefoot, or run with little more than a rudimentary  pair of sandals.
  • Though running shoes (shoes that are specifically designed for running) have only been a part of our running for less than a hundred years, long distance running has been a part of human history for thousands of years.

starting running
The style of running shoe you choose may
increase the likelihood of injury
Equally compelling is the information McDougall shares regarding how running shoes have changed in the last 50 or so years, going from the simple racing flats and other simple-soled designs to heavily designed/structured marvels of engineering, but that these changes have not reduced running injuries.

Insider Medicine reported that more expensive running shoes do not guarantee a decrease in the likelihood of injuries to the feet, legs or knees. In some cases, lower end shoes actually reported fewer injuries than higher priced sneakers.

Many people think that the more they spend for something, the better the quality. We have this perception for many things, not just for running shoes. But high price does not always equal superior quality. There may also be truth to the thinking that running in shoes that have more cushioning could cause a runner to be careless because they think they have better protection.

The bare-naked truth about running

As radical as this study sounds, do not immediately chuck your $140 running shoes and head out for a pair of discount store shoes. Other equally startling studies seem to indicate that your chances of avoiding running injuries and your chances of improving your running abilities or performance increase if you train with no shoes at all.

In SPORTSCIENCE, a peer-reviewed journal, physiotherapist Michael Warburton suggests that wearing running shoes reduces running performance and increases the risk of injury.  Even more surprising is what Warburton suggests is the better option:  Running barefoot.

And indeed, several internationally renowned athletes have competed barefoot, running races with great success and no shoes. This includes South Africa’s  Zola Budd-Pieterse, an Olympic record holder, and Ethiopian Abebe Bikila, the first African to win a gold medal who also became the first person in history to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in the marathon. I recommend the movie, The Athlete, about Abebe Bikila to find out more about barefoot running.

Barefoot running:  Sounds crazy, right?  Before you write this off as being a solution just in countries or cultures where walking and running barefoot is the norm, and thus couldn’t apply to U.S. running, you should know that Warburton cites several studies in his report which collectively indicate that acute and chronic injuries in countries where barefoot and shod populations co-exist, such as in Haiti, the rate of lower extremity injuries are substantially higher in the shoe-wearing portion of the population.

You may be wondering then, is it safe to run in running shoes at all? It can be. In our next article on running safety, we’ll look more closely at how you can significantly reduce your risk of a running injury, rather than ditching running altogether.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer