Monday, 26 April 2010

Barefoot running?

There is an ultimate running trend about barefoot running that has arised my curiosity.

This theory, that was first addressed in a Nature magazine paper, is resumed in a magnificent Harvard's Skeletal Biology Lab review that you may find here.

This is based in a few assumptions:
- We land our foot on the heel because our overprotective cushioned shoes allow that.
- Our shoe's heel are too high and that fact predisposes to Achilles tendon injuries (that are so comon!).
- If we run barefoot we will start landing on the forefoot (landing on the heel is painful when you're barefoot) and our running will become more economic. Furthermore, we will prevent some lesions once there won't be a peak of impact on our knees, hips and spine.

I don't have any training in this area but I've always been curious about the way Kenyan's run. They appear to have springs under their soles... and that's the way forefoot running works - landing on the forefoot gives you back some of the impulse that you projected on the ground.

There is even a funny curiosity about it. The guys that try it for the first times usually feel some headaches in the end, due to the overflow of sensory information that comes from our nervous endings at the feet (that are usually numb inside the shoe).

So, wether it really works or not, I'm feeling really tempted to buy some Vibram's Five fingers to give it a try (30min run a week).

Here are some runners that were famous for running barefoot:
Abebe Bikila - former Olympic marathon world-record holder
Bruce Tulloh - former European 5k record-holder
Tegla Loroupe - former Olympic marathon world-record holder

Last weekend I went to another road race. This time, a 11.500m one. It was a tough one with a great amount of climbing and my performance wasn't good (I was tired and I was with the usual Spring polen asthma problem). However I was 2nd, after a 2h12 marathon portuguese guy.


Christian said...

Barefoot running is of course good, but you also have to say for our european foot it is hard in the beginning. You cannot start with 30min Barfoot running and think it is good. You may have to go short steps and train your heels, otherwise you get some proplems with the muscles in your foot. So tried it last summer- and it worked out!

Anonymous said...

Also, take into account that in a rough terrain shoe serves an important protection from branches, broken glass etc.

You could get serious injuries running barefoot and I think that this risk outweights the risks of knee or heel injuries. At least for orienteering sport.


Anonymous said...

I have found a pretty strong correlation (although have not found any actual research on this yet) to heel striking and lumbar disc hernias. I believe that the POSE Method and other idealistic models of barefoot running are a fantastic solution to these issues. It must take practice and patience.
As a Chiropractor in Lisbon, I have already encountered several athletes with the types of problems related to heel striking.

Anonymous said...

Isso acabava (ou não) com as minhas dores nas costas!
Mas torto como eu corro acho que nem isso ajudava...
Rafael Miguel

Fauno said...

Esses sapatos são seguros para correr ao ar livre? Se pisarmos um vidro, por exemplo, o sapato oferece protecção suficiente?