Nov 27, 2010

The Science of Running with Shoes vs Barefoot(esque)

I've come across this pretty interesting blog post that sites many research articles I have come across in my time in grad school.  It talks about research on running shoes and some barefoot running kinematics.  I would like to reiterate, just as this article does, that running barefoot in not a panacea to injuries.  There is a complex relationship that includes the knees, hips, pelvis, and the trunk therefore one aspect of the body (foot) does not necessarily resolve potential problems with the others. I will elaborate more on that in the next blog posts.  Also, research is always in a process of evolution so keep that in mind when reading.  I don't typically site other people's work but I thought it did a very good job of explaining the seemingly topic-du-jour in the running world and it included peer reviewed articles to back it up.  So click on this link and see if this makes sense to you. 


  1. Steeve's article is very interesting.
    Trouble with barefoot vs shod debate is that there's no scientific evidence on the subject either from one side or the other.
    I started running minimalist a few months ago, found it "better" than shod, less trauma in the legs and so on but ... got a stress fracture of the second metatarsus I would never have got if I had kept running with cushionned shoes.

  2. Yes, that is true and I had a recent discussion with a PT I work with about the subject. Last year I started running immediately with vibrams and started feeling stress fracture in my R foot, but I don't see any problems if one adapts correctly. Here is one of the emails I sent him:
    "I agree with the fact that going minimal is not a panacea to potential LE problems. For example, if you have poor gluteal neuromuscular control going minimal is not going to drastically change the biomechanics of the hip/knee. Likewise for "motion control", "cushioned" shoes. They are not going to solve any problems either. The fact that they decrease external feedback and limit motion is something that has to be of concern. There is something to be said about the fact that these technological shoes started to develop in the 70's (ie Bowerman [Nike]) and that we should continue to follow what we've been told for the last 40 years.
    The point about somatosensory feedback that the body receives and how it responds to it has to be given merit. The research does get murky when you take into account individual differences, but that's what research is all about. It's probably going to answer few questions and leave many more unanswered. That doesn't mean, though, that clinical evidence and trying different interventions are useless. The way I see it is in an evolutionary aspect. Humans have been evolving for millions of years and ambulating without excessive footwear when all of a sudden the last 40 we've completely changed the way we perceive the earth with our feet. This doesn't take into account that we are becoming a more sedentary population either. I'm not saying we should all start moving with minimal footwear. There is a place for them: structural abnormalities etc. But I see no downside in including minimal footwear (ie shoeless) in the PT setting as an adjunct (eg balance exercises etc) or even people transitioning from typical modern footwear to minimal.
    We are only beginning to scratch the surface on complex human movement so what makes us think that straying away from what we've evolved into is the right approach?"


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