NZ Herald: Running barefoot may be healthier, say scientists

Steve Connor of the NZ Herald reports new research, published in Nature, that suggests that running barefoot causes less injury than running in conventional athletic shoes.

According to the research, running shoes change a runner’s gait and the way their feet strike the ground, in turn greatly increasing the impact forces felt by their bodies, and their chance of injury.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

The researchers found that running in bare feet – which was until relatively recently in human evolution, the natural way to run – may give better protection against the sort of repetitive-impact injuries caused by striking the ground with a force equivalent to several times a person’s body weight.

“…cushioned heels mean that a typical runner is pounding the ground heavily at a rate of about 1000 collisions per mile, said Madhusudhan Venkadesan, also of Harvard University.

“”Heel striking is painful when barefoot or in minimal shoes because it causes a large collisional force each time a foot lands on the ground. Barefoot runners point their toes more at landing, avoiding this collision by decreasing the effective mass of the foot that comes to a sudden stop when you land, and by having a more compliant, or springy leg,” Dr Venkadesan said.”