The world got startled when Arnulfo Quimare, Raramuri, a Tarahumaratribeman from Mexico, won the Copper Canyon Ultramarathon in 2006 and outran many fast American runners, like Micah True, almost bare feet. It made everyone, including people who were slightly interested in running or jogging, wonder as to how he managed to outrun the injuries which are common among the runners/joggers. This not only jeopardized the position of massive sports goods industry worth billions of dollars, but also raised questions over the expensive and expert trainers.
People who are interested in sports or running know that running related injuries have increased despite advancement in shoe technology and well informed and updated training and running strategies. People want to know if they should follow heel thumping style or forefoot striking style for running. Are shoes with advanced features good or cheap, flat running shoes better?
The Myth Of Modern Shoes
Apparently, these questions have been raised to avoid running/jogging related injuries. This includes mainly the injuries to the ankles and knees like Plantar fasciitis and Achilles’ tendinopathy or Patellofemoral stress syndrome. Surprisingly, almost two decades back, it was found by Dr Bernard Marti (a preventive medicine specialist at Bern) that the injuries to the runners with expensively equipped shoes were more common than those runners who were equipped with cheap running shoes.
Those results were again endorsed when another research by Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise went more specific in mentioning modern shoes as being the cause of more injuries.
How Modern Running Shoes Fail To Prevent Injuries?
The modern running shoes with shock absorbing features, torsion control devices, ball rolls designs etc were actually designed to aid the runners in running in terms of shock absorption, torsion control and bounce enhancement through the shoes.
However, the 20$ billion sports industry’s apathy towards natural build of human feet, legs and hips’ natural tendency to absorb shock through leg compression and midfoot thick fats pads during running, was surprising. The salt to the injuries is when trainers made the runners change their running style to heel thumping the ground first than the toes. This is done to comply with the modern shoes shock absorption leverage. This is the reason why athletes get more injured despite having modern shoes snugged to their feet. From this we can make an assertion that forefoot running is the original way of running because it helps force to be endured by natural anatomy of the body that is manufactured to endure such running pressures.
However, there is another view supported by evidence: Heels thumping the ground first is better than forefoot striking first because researchers claim that during very long running exercises human feet adapt automatically to the heel thumping style of running. So if you are a casual runner and are running just to keep yourself fit, then all that matters is that you should run in your natural style while keeping yourself safe from injuries.
Heel Thumping Or Forefoot Striking?
Trainers train their runners in a way to minimize the chances of injuries. But running itself has negative effects on some body parts: for some it is knees and for others it is ankles or Achilles’ tendon.
Those who run forefoot striking may suffer from Achilles’ tendon or ankle’s injuries like Achilles’ tendinopathy or plantar fascitis.
Those who run by heel thumping most likely suffer from knee injuries like patellofemoral stress syndrome.
It is just that one cannot outrun the culminative effect of running. Reason being, heel strikers exert force near or around the knee caps or at the middle of knees, which are unfortunately the weakest part of knees and are more prone to getting hurt. However, during the forefoot striking the force is taken by the compression of leg muscles and the fat pads of the middle foot, causing extra strain on ankles or Achilles’ tendon. So in both running styles there is no win-win situation until and unless you understand the science of running and its side effects on certain parts more than others.
Running Shoes And Musculoskeletal Injuries
The massive sports goods manufacturing industry worth $20 billion introduced many complicated and intricate designs to the shoes that provided following effects to the feet of runners:
- Cushioning effect to the heels
- Charge the foot with extra thrust
- Torsion control for the foot
- Roll bars for better endurance
Unfortunately researches and facts claim that such effects offered by these expensive shoes actually clog the foot within the shoe resulting in the foot of a runner being unable to dissipate the forces to areas naturally made to endure them. This artificiality provided by the shoes is the major cause of those increasing musculoskeletal injuries to the runners.
Preferable Shoes For Runners: Run Barefoot
Recently, it has been found by Jeff Pisciotta (senior researcher at Nike Sports Research Lab) that those runners who run barefoot or with cheap flat joggers, they not only run fast but also outrun the injuries common in other runners. The reason being that barefoot runners have better pressure distribution on their feet due to better flexion and spread of foot, minimum pronation due to better grip to the surface. So the preferable shoes for runners, gymnasts, climbers, cardio workout lovers are:
Cheap flat running joggers
New Nike free shoe thinners
The choice is yours. Both offer the same function but will keep you away from injuries only when you prefer to run in your natural style.