Bare feet outrun expensive trainers
HARVARD biologist and runner Daniel Lieberman had a simple question: "How did people run without shoes?"
The answer: much better.
At least running barefoot seems better for the feet, producing far less impact stress compared to feet shod in fancy, expensive running shoes, according to a study by Dr Lieberman in the journal Nature. It concludes that people seem to be born to run -- barefoot.
People who grew up running barefoot -- such as boys in Kenya's Rift Valley province, which is known for endurance running champs -- tend to land mostly on the front or middle of the foot when they touch ground. And when these runners do use shoes, they continue to run in that way.
People who have always worn cushioned running shoes usually hit the ground heel first.
The difference in the way the foot strikes the ground is important. The Lieberman study found that people with running shoes strike the ground with the mass of the entire leg, nearly 7pc of the body. That is more than three times the weight of impact for barefoot running.
For runners in cushioned shoes, "it is literally like someone hitting you on the heel with a hammer", Dr Lieberman said.
But runners should be cautious about ditching their shoes or using new ones that mimic barefoot running. In general, changes either in running shoes or distance should be no more than 10pc a week, he warned