injuries happen at a ridiculous rate among professional and
hobby runners, but they're completely avoidable if you're willing to
stop running in a way that invites them to occur.
It's clear that we were born to run, and
that the human body is masterfully built for the act of
long-distance running. The question is, if we're so well adapted to the
activity, why do most people injured doing it?
hamstrings, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, Achilles tendinitis -
massacre out there. Among runners, injury is not the exception, but
almost always the rule.
civilization has thrown a massive arsenal of technological innovations
at our common running injuries, but they've only become more prevalent.
We've got $200
running shoes controlled by computer chips, magazines and
scientific journals filled with countless studies on the best ways to
run, and coaches, therapists and podiatrists eager to tackle our
problems, yet we're still getting mowed down.
claim that every year -yes, every year- between 40 and 80 percent of
runners get injured. Even believing the lower figure, that's still a
ridiculously high rate.
what's wrong with us? How can we be so biologically fit to run and so
injury prone at the same time? How did we get into this situation?
Common Running Injuries:
The Fleecing Of The Running Community
You're buying things you don't need to fix a problem you don't have.
idea that your feet, Achilles tendons , and knees are all horribly
defective, or were never intended to run in the first place, is the lie
you've been spending your money on. Adidas,
Nike, and New Balance would love for you to keep buying it.
A lot of foot and knee injuries that are
currently plaguing us are
actually caused by people running with shoes that actually make our
feet weak, cause us to over-pronate, give us knee problems. Until
1972, when the modern athletic shoe was invented by Nike, people ran in
very thin-soled shoes, had strong feet, and had much lower incidence of
-Daniel Lieberman, professor of biological
anthropology at Harvard University
The idea that nature screwed up when she got to you is completely
counter intuitive, but we invariably believe it.
Except for the minority who truly have deformed appendages, the feet,
knees, and every other part of our bodies are just fine. Sure, some are
born with parts ideal for running, but almost everyone comes ready-made
for truly impressive feats of foot. You were born to run, and the
sooner you get that through your head, the sooner you'll stop believing
nonsense and start avoiding common running injuries.
Common Running Injuries: The Evidence Is Growing
many years, the only evidence we had of the shoe companies'
fraud was history and a few brave examples.
We know full well that the ancient Greek Olympians ran barefoot or in
sandals just fine without our common running injuries, and that for
much of human history, we wore minimalist footwear or went barefoot.
We've had a few odd examples more recently, like Abebe Bikila, yet
almost no one in the mainstream has made a serious argument against
shoes that I'm aware of.
Until the last few decades, anyway. Now the evidence keeps piling up:
A study on the barefoot and shod populations in Haiti
injuries to the lower body are much higher in those groups that wear
shoes. Running-related chronic injuries to bone and connective tissue
in the legs are almost unheard of in developing countries, where most
people are habitually barefoot, Got plantar fasciitis? Barefoot
populations don't (1).
Wearing shoes makes you a less economical runner. The
shoes and orthodics, the more oxygen needed to run in them. One study
found that adding shoes and orthodics representing 1 percent of body
mass increased oxygen consumption by 3.1 percent (2), another,
comparing running at 12 km/h in bare feet vs shoes, found that the
shoes increased oxygen consumption by 4.7 percent (3).
Shoes compromise the ability of the legs and feet to
act as springs.
In bare feet, your legs return 70 percent of the energy stored in them,
but if you put on running shoes, that return is reduced considerably
When running barefoot on solid ground, we compensate
for our lack of
cushioning by plantar-flexing the foot on contact, creating a softer
Because barefoot runners can't land on our heels
without pain, we land
mid-foot, creating more work for the the soft tissue support
structures, and thereby increasing strength and possibly reducing the
risk of injury (4).
There is not a single study showing that shoes reduce
shock when you
run, and several showing that they do not (6). One study noted that
shock to the hip joint was lower for barefoot jogging than for jogging
in several types of shoes (7).
The more expensive the running shoe, and the more
injury-prevention and anti-pronation gear it is, the more likely you
are to get injured in it. Cheap shoes cause fewer injuries than
expensive ones (8).
This is just a modest sample, and more studies are coming out all the
time. Despite their massive budgets, shoe companies have been unable to
muster studies showing their shoes prevent common running injuries, or
serve any purpose at all. Nike has even come out with its Nike Free
line, which is an attempt to sell barefooting to the public through
Common Running Injuries:
Pronation is not bad. Being flatfooted does not mean you must consign
yourself to shoes. You feet work fine, so use them.
(1) Robbins SE,
Hanna AM (1987). Running-related injury prevention
through barefoot adaptations. Medicine and Science in Sports and
Exercise 19, 148-156 (2) Burkett LN,
Kohrt M, Buchbinder R (1985). Effects of shoes and foot
orthotics on VO2 and selected frontal plane kinematics. Medicine and
Science in Sports and Exercise 17, 158-163 (3) Flaherty RF
(1994). Running economy and kinematic differences among
running with the foot shod, with the foot bare, and with the bare foot
equated for weight. Microform Publications, International Institute for
Sport and Human Performance, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon (4) Yessis M
(2000). Explosive running. Illinois, USA.
Contemporary Books (5) Frederick EC
(1986). Kinematically mediated effects of sports shoe
design: a review. Journal of Sports Sciences 4, 169-184 (6) Robbins SE,
Gouw GJ (1990). Athletic footwear and chronic
overloading: a brief review. Sports Medicine 9, 76-85 (7) Bergmann G,
Kniggendorf H, Graichen F, Rohlmann A (1995). Influence
of shoes and heel strike on the loading of the hip joint. Journal of
Biomechanics 28, 817-827 (8) Robbins SE,
Gouw GJ (1991). Athletic footwear: unsafe due to
perceptual illusions. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 23,
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