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Originally published March 10 2010

How Runners can Combat Impact Related Injuries the Natural Way

by Fleur Hupston

(NaturalNews) Shoe companies have invested millions of dollars in making high tech, good quality running shoes. The investment has paid off! Well known shoe manufactures have become household names, boosting profits to record highs. However, despite wearing these high tech shoes, research suggests that as many as 30% of runners get injured every year.

Benefits of Running and Walking Barefoot

Man has been running for thousands of years, apparently without the injuries experienced by modern sportsmen/women wearing modern shoes. The human foot is designed to run without the aid of a shoe. In the past runners were either barefoot or wore minimal footwear such as sandals or moccasins with smaller heels and little cushioning relative to modern running shoes. As the incidence of running injuries remains significant despite advances in footwear technology, it seems that the best shoes may be no shoes at all.

Running Shoes and Sports Injuries

The modern running shoe was invented during the 1970's. Prior to that, shoes offered little or no real protection against impact injuries.

Due to the high prevalence of impact related sports injuries amongst runners, research has been undertaken to study the reasons for such injuries and to design the ultimate high tech running shoe. As it turns out, nature got there first. The startling fact is that research has shown high tech running shoes may be contributing to impact related injuries amongst runners.

According to a study conducted by Daniel Lieberman and colleagues at Harvard University it was found that shod runners are more inclined to heel strike as opposed to mid foot or front foot strike when running. Their research also showed that many shod runners, when asked to run barefoot in laboratory conditions on a treadmill or track way, switch to a mid foot or forefoot strike.

Lieberman concludes that, until recently, most humans had much more varied gaits. Sometimes they landed on their heel, but more often they were mid foot or front foot striking. The heel is not designed to absorb impact all of the time. Running in a mid foot or front foot strike style spreads the impact more evenly across the foot. Considering that most runners will strike the ground around 60 times per kilometer, this significantly reduces the likelihood of developing repetitive stress injuries.

The high tech running shoe, on the other hand, gives the runner a false sense of security, allowing him or her to comfortably heel strike most of the time. Unfortunately, even the most advanced shoe cannot prevent the accumulated damage suffered by consistently running in this way.

Easing into Walking and Running Barefoot

People in the modern age are accustomed to wearing shoes, so running or or even walking barefoot is something to be eased into for many - build calf and foot muscles slowly. By practicing each day, barefoot running and walking will eventually come easily, naturally and painlessly.


About the author

Fleur Hupston is a professional freelance writer. She is passionate about natural, healthy living and is currently studying to be a naturopath. She divides her time between writing for Natural News and various other sites, home schooling her children and studying part time.

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