Thursday, January 7, 2010

Barefoot Running - Studyin' Up

I've been experimenting with barefoot running in the cold weather. If I start out barefoot, then the temperature must be 40 or higher and it must be dry and sunny. If it's colder or wet out then my toes start freezing up quickly and that's no fun.

If I wear shoes for the first two miles, I can go barefoot for two miles if it's wet and in the thirties or if it's dry and in the twenties. The rougher the surface the less tolerable the cold is.

A study was recently published that took a look at the effect of running shoes on the body. The verdict: Bad.

Click to embiggen.

After you get through the statistics and charts and ankle dorsiflexion torque and knee varus torque language, you find this quote.

The design of current running shoes, with various heel-cushioning strategies and technologies to increase medial support to control foot pronation, has become widely accepted as the industry standard. However there is no clinical evidence to support that this design is optimal to promote the long-term health of runners. In fact, the rate of running-related injury in distance runners has not changed dramatically despite advances in footwear design technologies.

It's not the definitive verdict nor the last word. But it's a good point.


Unknown said...

They forgot to compare the number of sharp objects embedded in the runner's feet. :)

Joking aside, while the study demonstrates that shoes cause higher stresses in various joints, that doesn't necessarily mean barefoot running is beneficial. The risks of shod running must be weighed against the risks of barefoot running. The marginal benefits of barefoot running may not be as large as other methods of reducing the risk of osteoarthritis. Changing the runner's form, choice of shoe, or (especially) the runner's weight may all be more effective.

Hank Greer said...

My son makes some good points.

Barb Chamberlain said...

After reading Born to Run and getting interested in running near-barefoot (I want some protection against rusty nails & broken beer bottles, myself), I just ran across (ha!) this brief article on E:

Just may have to give it a try come summer, since I'm not interested in testing COLD barefoot running as my starting point.


Unknown said...

If you step in something squishy when running barefoot, do you run faster, or stop and take a look?

Just wondering. . .

Hank Greer said...

Lee Ann,

It depends on how warm the something squishy is.