Across the globe, hundreds of thousands of men and women from the civilized world wake up, strap on a pair of overpriced, heavily over cushioned shoes and proceed to pound the pavement for hours on end. Statistics show that 60% (rockwoodclinic) of these long distance runners will wind up with at least one major injury a year over the course of their running life. Meanwhile, in the desert hills of northern Mexico's Sierra Occidental, members of a small Indian tribe known as the Tarahumara wear nothing but a thin protective strip of sandal over their feet for ultramarathoning contests and typical running injuries are practically nonexistent . What is it about their culture that has allowed them to produce injury free distance runners...minimalist running.
In the 1970’s during one of the first and biggest running boons, it was determined that running shoes needed more cushion and support to aid with the consistent pounding the body takes while running. With all of this additional cushion and support came the end of the natural running form. Gone are the days of running with short, quick strides, the feet landing under your center of gravity, beneath the hips, and striking the ground towards the front part of your foot. This form has been replaced with the longer stride and heel strike. According to researchers at the American Academy of Physical, Medication and Rehabilitation, the padded/cushioned shoes exerted more stress on the leg joints as compared to minimalist running shoes (Kerrigan, pmrjournal) which in turn results in more injuries due to the fact the runners weight is not evenly distributed amongst the joints. Our ancestors didn’t wear shoes with all of this added cushioning and one look at the modern day Tarahumara Indian tribe located in the hills of northern Mexico provides more evidence.
It has been said that the Tarahumara may be the best natural distance runners in the world, which might explain just how good...
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