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Running Freely

Thought those $150 brand-name sneakers helped improve your running form? Think again.

Nature has recently published research that undermines the idea of preventing injuries with fancy footwear. Based partly on the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation’s finding last December that running shoes negatively impact hip, knee, and ankle joints, the study determined that runners with shoes tend to land on their heels rather than the middle/front parts of their feet, as early Homo Sapiens. Specifically, the cushioned soles of running shoes allow for a collision force at least 1.5 times body weight. This change from the evolutionary norm of barefoot running can lead to potential injuries of the feet and legs.
According to Daniel Lieberman (human evolutionary biology professor at Harvard University and lead author of the study), “most people today think barefoot running is dangerous and hurts. But actually you can run barefoot on the world’s hardest surfaces without the slightest discomfort and pain.” He also adds for uneasy runners, “all you need is a few calluses.” Or perhaps invest new running gear, such as Newton Running shoes or the Vibram Five Fingers to readjust the stride and landing position. Regardless, runners should focus on maintaining good form (i.e. what has developed over thousands of years) with or without shoes. Good luck on the road!


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