Running barefoot versus running shoes

Steve Magness posted an interesting article about the link between injuries and impact forces and how running shoes companies want you to think that they’re inhibiting it.

The problem is, once again, we underestimate the human body! It’s an amazing thing, and we never give it the credit it deserves. The body adapts to the surface that it’s going to strike, if you give it a chance. The body adapts to both shoe and surface adjusting impact forces via changes joint stiffness, the way the foot strikes, and a concept called muscle tuning.

An example of this can be seen with barefoot running, the diminished proprioception (sensory feedback) of wearing a shoe negates the cushioning of the shoe. Studies using minimal shoes/barefoot have shown that the body seems to adapt the impact forces/landing based on feedback and feedforward data. When running or landing from a jump, the body takes in all the sensory info, plus prior experiences, and adjusts to protect itself/land optimally As mentioned above, it does this through a variety of mechanisms. Thus, you stick some cushioned running shoe on the bottom of your foot and the body goes “Oh, we’re okay, we don’t need to worry about impact as much, we’ve got this soft piece of junk on our foot. (source)

I can see his point, our ancestors never had those fancy, schamncy Chaco multisport shoes and they’re running fine, of course their life expectancy isn’t all that, but that’s not the point.

Running barefoot has been all the craze lately, what with the release of vibram and all, it’s very interesting to see where this will go, I don’t think running shoes companies will go down without any fight, though, if they’ll go down at all!

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