Barefoot Running

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  • Topic: Barefoot running, Foot, Barefoot
  • Pages : 10 (3252 words )
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  • Published : May 21, 2012
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Barefoot vs. Shod Running

By: Scott Schmitt

Table of Contents

I. Introduction…………………………………………………………….. Page 1 II. Shod Running……………………………………………………………Page 2 III. Minimalist Running……………………………………………………..Page 5 IV. Barefoot Running………………………………………………………..Page 8 V. Conclusion……………………………………………………………...Page 10

Introduction

The number of long distance running, cross country, and track and field participants has grown over the past few years. Today, millions of Americans compete in road races. Close to 29 million People participate in running annually (Smith 50). Its popularity has expanded and running has become a part of many people’s lifestyles. This ranges from the Olympic athletes to the ordinary people running just to shed a couple pounds. It is a sport for all ages and people with the widest range of athletic ability.

Wearing shoes is something practically everybody assumes when they go for a jog, a workout, or a race. The modern running shoe wasn’t invented until 1970 (Lieberman 531). So what did people do when the modern running shoe wasn’t around? More and more people have been asking themselves this very question.

Injuries are almost unavoidable when running. Stress fractures, pulled muscles, shin splints, the list is endless. Every runner has experienced an injury at least once. Some injuries are nagging and can ruin peoples running career.

Could it possibly be that the modern day running shoe is causing injuries in many athletes today? Humans weren’t born with shoes on their feet. Running barefoot is how we were meant to run. In America, bare foot running has become less popular since we live in the concrete jungle. In third world countries, running barefoot is the norm.

In Kenya, most runners are barefoot. The Kenyans have also dominated the distance events at the Olympics for decades and have kept any American distance runners from winning gold for years. Also, the Tarahumara people of northern Mexico are barefoot runners. The Tarahumara are well known for their running ability. They can run up to 120 miles without a break. They use running for communication, hunting, and recreation. They can run incredible distances of 450 miles in just over 48 hours.

Could barefoot running be the reason the Tarahumara and the Kenyans are so good at running? Possibly. Certainly, there are other factors that are key in running like diet and culture. But the main question here is, “is barefoot running a better solution to injury prevention than wearing modern day running shoes?”

Shod Running

There are three different ways a runner can land on their foot while running. There is the forefoot strike which is where the runner lands on the ball of their foot and the mid foot and heel never touch the ground. The mid foot strike is where the ball and heel of foot land at the same time. And the rear foot strike is when the runner lands on their heel and follows through, rolling there foot forward so they can push off the ground. Heel striking is most common amongst runners. Forefoot and midfoot striking is less common. (Lieberman 531). Injury is most likely to occur when the foot hits the ground. Dan E. Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University says the “Impact transients associated with rear foot strike running are sudden forces with high rates and magnitudes of loading that travel rapidly up the body and thus may contribute to the high incidence of running related injuries, especially tibial stress fractures and plantar Fasciitis.”

80% of shod endurance runnners land on their heel (Lieberman 531). Heel striking causes the most impact force. It affects the joints especially in the knees. This is where the modern running shoe comes in to play. Most running shoes have a large sole, especially thick in the heel to decrease the impact force. Impact force ranges...
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