Somewhat of a hot topic recently is the argument of shod vs barefoot running. Is one of them actually better for you? A quick little walk around bushy park will tell you which is the most common! However, our nice cushioned running shoes only appeared on the scene in the 70’s. It is also o surprise that the 70’s saw a rise in interest in physical activity and training. Shoe development has since gone way beyond what it was back then, with the main consensus still revolving around cushioning the heel and reducing impact.
Despite this, much of the more recent research is still divided! Many studies have suggested the heel strike is still causing a greater risk of injury, despite the £100 pair of shoes you just purchased. So what is really going on, should we ditch the trainers and go back to our ancestral roots?
The Argument For Barefoot Running
The main argument revolves around the heel strike and how much force is being transmitted through the body. Running barefoot generally leads to a forefoot strike, which significantly reduces braking forces. Because of this, there is far less stress put on the tissues and joints. This means they don’t breakdown as much!
Increased collision forces between foot and floor have been shown to be a significant factor in tibial stress (shin splints), patella femoral pain and plantar fasciitis. Considering the average runner completes 600 contacts per kilometre, thats a big risk of injury!
There is also research to suggest shod running can change knee and hip angles, negatively affecting economy and risk of injury.
It’s a Good Theory
Unfortunately, there simply isn’t enough significant data that directly links barefoot running to decreased risk of injury. A number of studies noted decreased injuries in barefoot runners. However, these studies tend to notice decreased mileage. It may be possible the decrease in mileage is actually the main factor reducing injuries. While the evidence suggest differences in foot strike and collision forces are key, more research is needed.
So Which Is Better?
As it stands, you may be best sticking with your trainers for the time being. With this in mind, keep an eye out as the topics continues to evolve. As Expert Personal Trainers, we always try to keep up to date with the latest research. If you are looking for more information before your next Park Run in Crane or Mooremead, Twickenham please get in touch.