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TaoSurfing's picture
Joined: Apr 15 2009
Posts: 107
Making the Case for Running Shoes

More fuel for the debate:

Making the Case for Running Shoes
By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS, Columnist

For the past few years, proponents of barefoot running have argued that modern athletic shoes compromise natural running form. But now a first-of-its-kind study suggests that, in the right circumstances, running shoes make running physiologically easier than going barefoot.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder, began by recruiting 12 well-trained male runners with extensive barefoot running experience. “It was important to find people who are used to running barefoot,” says Rodger Kram, a professor of integrative physiology, who oversaw the study, which was published online in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

“A novice barefoot runner moves very differently than someone who’s used to running barefoot,” Dr. Kram says. “We wanted to look at runners who knew what they were doing, whether they were wearing shoes or not.”

Specifically, he and his colleagues hoped to determine whether wearing shoes was metabolically more costly than going unshod. In other words, does wearing shoes require more energy than going barefoot?

Rest of article: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/21/making-the-case-for-running-sho...

Anton's picture
Joined: Mar 4 2005
Posts: 5352
It was a good piece with

It was a good piece with some food for thought.
I wish it had been a larger study sample.
It says clearly in the article that it appears barefoot running requires more effort than running shod but only slightly so. Nike no longer makes the shoe they used in the test. If they do I can't find it.
We're now in the 3rd wave of barefoot running I've seen in my running career. (42 years). Things are different now with new "barefoot" shoe technology...but as time goes on it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Personally, I think barefoot will drift away again but this time minimal shoes will stay. When I started running all shoes were minimal and they seemed to last forever, then you slapped some shoe goo on them and got more milage out of them. I just don't remember anything about injury rates from that time.

TryScott's picture
Joined: Aug 5 2007
Posts: 1833
I'm all about free time.

I'm all about free time. Anyone that has really worked hard to achieve a good race time should agree that even 1 second per mile is worth patting yourself on the back, even if it doesn't move you up on the podium. For someone that's a professional runner, dropping a second per mile by changing their shoes is a no brainer. Their races are usually much closer than age groupers, and moving up on the podium has monetary value. Unless there's an immediate injury, or it shortens your career, go for it.

Here's the part where I wish was smarter. Maybe intelligent people can explain how the body is supposed to replace in 1 to 2 years of barefoot running what the body has adapted to in 10 to 20 years of using shoes. Since I'd like to be running when I'm 70+ years old, I'll stick with what my body knows. If my parents put me in Vibram 5 Fingers at the age of two, and it's all I used, then I'd stick with them.

Maybe I'm just bitter to changing styles because after some plantar issues, I tried Newton's over the summer as an easy fix. After a few months my sore ankle became a torn ligament, and an MRI later I'm told it won't get better without surgery.

hamlet_cat's picture
Joined: Aug 4 2010
Posts: 1068
Interesting. I would like

Interesting. I would like to see details on the study, I find it a bit surprising. I use all my shoes interchangeably, and I have a barefoot running shoe, a minimalist trail shoe and a trainer and they all weight within 1 gram of each other, so weight isn't really a factor. The one I prefer is the minimalist trail shoe if conditions aren't a concern. The trainer although easier to warm up in, feels funny under my foot, it is like trying to shift gears on your bike with ski gloves on, after awhile it just doesn't feel as efficient. However the minimalist shoe is more difficult to warm up in, but once all the major and minor muscles in my legs and feet are engaged and working together, it feels more efficient. I don't use my barefoot running shoe unless I am running on a dirt path or on the treadmill and the main reason is that I get minor aches and pains in my feet and I end up uncompromising my gait to avoid feeling these minor pains. I don't seem to have the same problem on dirt paths or on the treadmill, so the barefoot shoes are usually fine in those conditions. I don't really know if one shoe is faster or not, but I do know that I would not race in my barefoot shoe, ever. But the minimalist or the trainer I would (and have) for sure.

On the other hand...I am not a professional runner.

TaoSurfing's picture
Joined: Apr 15 2009
Posts: 107
Shit barefoot runners

Shit barefoot runners say:

http://howtorunbarefoot.com/?p=343

TryScott's picture
Joined: Aug 5 2007
Posts: 1833
Thank you Tao, I needed that.

Thank you Tao, I needed that.

hamlet_cat's picture
Joined: Aug 4 2010
Posts: 1068
That's so funny!

That's so funny!

TaoSurfing's picture
Joined: Apr 15 2009
Posts: 107
TryScott, My pleasure. Even

TryScott,

My pleasure. Even though, technically, I am not a "barefoot" runner-- minimalist I guess-- I am all too happy to poke fun at the inanities of all those who uber-fy themselves. However, in the interest of honesty, I do point out, at least to myself, and with some glee, "heel-strikers".

hamlet_cat's picture
Joined: Aug 4 2010
Posts: 1068
Sometimes I think "heel

Sometimes I think "heel striking" technique might be more of a myth. After the conversation we had about it last year, it seems to indicate that this technique doesn't seem to really exist.

ac-cox's picture
Joined: Jan 14 2012
Posts: 7
hamlet_cat wrote:Sometimes I

[quote=hamlet_cat]Sometimes I think "heel striking" technique might be more of a myth. After the conversation we had about it last year, it seems to indicate that this technique doesn't seem to really exist.[/quote]
On the cover of "Run Less, Run Faster" the runner in the picture is definitely a heel striker.

hamlet_cat's picture
Joined: Aug 4 2010
Posts: 1068
ac-cox wrote:hamlet_cat

[quote=ac-cox][quote=hamlet_cat]Sometimes I think "heel striking" technique might be more of a myth. After the conversation we had about it last year, it seems to indicate that this technique doesn't seem to really exist.[/quote]
On the cover of "Run Less, Run Faster" the runner in the picture is definitely a heel striker. [/quote]

Yeah, that is what I would have thought too. But in the discussion last year about "heel striking" vs. "midfoot" technique, in most cases it actually just looks like the runner lands "heel first" but in actual fact they don't. Because the runners momentum is moving forward, by the time the weight transfers to the leading foot, the weight is over the midfoot. So it is really a "midfoot" strike technique. It just "looks like" heel striking. At least, that is what I was told.

TaoSurfing's picture
Joined: Apr 15 2009
Posts: 107
hamlet_cat Oh, no, heel

hamlet_cat

Oh, no, heel striking is very much a reality. I remember, much to my chagrin, in the early days of my running, thinking that my feet were making too much of a "slapping" sound and making a more concerted effort to land on my heels and transition to a big toe off.

You are correct though, it is almost impossible to heel strike if your feet are landing under your body center. However, most people who heel strike land with their foot/heel extended in front of their center of gravity, typically with the knee locked out, and acting as a brake. The foot's arch is unable to work the way it is s'posed to and the knee, rather than acting as a shock absorber simply transmits the shock from the heel impact all the way to the hips, lower back, and parts further.

Additionally, if one is wearing "traditional" running shoes with a built up heel and an offset from heel to toe (can't remember the technical term and am too lazy to look it up) even if one lands with one's foot under their center of gravity, it is almost impossible (I said almost) not to heel strike because the heels are so built up; this as opposed to a neutral shoe, such as running flats, which Anton sagely noted that ALL running shoes used to be, or a more recent version such as Saucony's Knvara or Nike's Free.

hamlet_cat's picture
Joined: Aug 4 2010
Posts: 1068
TaoSurfing

[quote=TaoSurfing]hamlet_cat

Oh, no, heel striking is very much a reality. I remember, much to my chagrin, in the early days of my running, thinking that my feet were making too much of a "slapping" sound and making a more concerted effort to land on my heels and transition to a big toe off.
[/quote]

You actually used to run this way? I have tried this technique just to feel the difference and I can't do with for a few hundred meters with out having my shins start to ache. That was one of the reasons I knew I wasn't a heel striker when I thought I was, it it just too ackward for me to run that way. Though I thought I was at one point because I ran in trainers up until recently. After much consideration and analysis, I learned that I wasn't.

[quote=TaoSurfing]
Additionally, if one is wearing "traditional" running shoes with a built up heel and an offset from heel to toe (can't remember the technical term and am too lazy to look it up) even if one lands with one's foot under their center of gravity, it is almost impossible (I said almost) not to heel strike because the heels are so built up; this as opposed to a neutral shoe, such as running flats, which Anton sagely noted that ALL running shoes used to be, or a more recent version such as Saucony's Knvara or Nike's Free.[/quote]

A lot of professional runners wear trainers, I am not convinced that the shoe causes "heel striking" after watching several videos of professional running. For me to be convinced, I would have to see the entire professional world convert to a barefoot shoe before I would believe that the shoe causes a bad technique. However the heel-toe is easier to do in the trainer, it still feels inefficient. There is a bit of a "forward lean" when running in a trainer, so when you are running in those type of shoes you can still use the midfoot technique.

jarhead's picture
Joined: Jun 23 2009
Posts: 1113
heel striking isn't a myth

heel striking isn't a myth its a fact. Take someone that is a "heel-striker" and put them in a pair of Newton Ultra-distance runners and watch how fast their shoes wear out. I used to be one of those heel- strikers.

I think the point of the heel-striker discussion is that no one is a 100% heel striker, where as the runner strikes the ground at the very end of the heel (point of impact, not point where weight is xfered). Its not so much where your land on your heel when you land that makes you a heel striker, but where your body is positioned over your feet when you have that initial point of impact. For me, my body was behind my feet at my original point of impact (its impossible to have your body directly over your feet and heel strike at the same time).

Its taken 2.5 years to fully transform my running technique into something that is fast and efficient and might I add injury free (knocks on wood).

hamlet_cat's picture
Joined: Aug 4 2010
Posts: 1068
This is basically the same

This is basically the same discussion as last year. If you look at pictures of some professional runners you definitely see the heel of the leading foot making contact with the ground. But I was told last year that they aren't landing on their heel and rolling off the toe, which is the technique that taosurfing was describing that he used to do. To actually take the time to do that, results in a slower turnover and yes most likely a slower race time.

But the faster the runner or the running gait, the more the heel of the leading foot extends in front of the body. For myself for example, running reps on the track, results in a much different picture than when I am out running a recovery run. The main reason is because of how fast my momentum is moving forward. In the faster gait, I have to stretch out my leading foot and yes it makes contact with the ground, but it is not a "heel to toe" gait.

[img]http://i.ytimg.com/vi/MC_t8MfGHMQ/0.jpg[/img][/url]

[img]http://triathlon.competitor.com/files/2010/10/Kona-3015.jpg[/img][/url]

I had a better picture of Usain Bolt on the other post last year where leading foot is really far out in front of his body, and it is easy to see in videos that by the time his momentum catches up with his leading foot his body weight is in front, resulting in a midfoot technique as opposed to a "heel to toe" gait.

cjhoffmn's picture
Joined: Sep 3 2007
Posts: 704
For me, I went through the

For me, I went through the progression similar to this:
Hated running
Read some books about BF running
"Wow holy cow, I land on my heel almost every stride"
Year of learning to run differently
Bought vibrams
Liked running in them much more
Went barefoot completely
"[meh]"
Got Bikilas
Liked them... but... [I got tried to wrestling with them to put them on]
Got the NB Minimus and the Merrel minimal trail runners
Love running in them
over 2.5 year period noticed:
"Wow, I never land on my heels anymore, and I like running"
I'm faster now than ever in my life, my feet feel a lot better in general, they hate being in regular shoes now, and I actually like running.

I went through careful, long adjustment period/conversion to it and feel like it improved a lot of things for me. I literally don't like running in my regular running shoes anymore because they make my feet hurt.

n=1, so tough to draw too strong a conclusion, but I'm a believer in the general idea...

-C

TaoSurfing's picture
Joined: Apr 15 2009
Posts: 107
Hamlet Cat, If you watch the

Hamlet Cat,

If you watch the 2nd video (lower left- Olympic 1500m) at http://www.goodformrunning.com/ you will see some fast dudes, and in almost every case, the foot is directly or nearly directly under the torso at the point of impact. Towards the end some shots from the side are shown in slo-mo and it looks like the guys are understriding forward compared to the back stride (making up terms as I go along here).

The physics (and physiology) of it dictate that every time the foot lands in front of the body it acts as a brake to forward momentum and the arch and knee cannot function as designed to absorb shock; in extreme cases you'll see people with their knee completely locked out in front of them and they wonder why their knees, hips, and lower back all hurt after running.

Like Jarhead, it's taken me 2+ years working on my form to really switch things up and I still think there is a significant amount of room for improvement.

hamlet_cat's picture
Joined: Aug 4 2010
Posts: 1068
@Taosurfing. That is

@Taosurfing. That is exactly my point, it is illustrated clearly in that video. As the leading foot comes back the momentum moves forward and the weight moves over top of the leading foot, even though it "looks like" the heel hits the ground first. Landing with your weight on the heel and rolling to your toe is not the "midfoot" technique. The pictures I posted show that too, but the video is better because you can pause it to see when the weight transfer actually occurs. I couldn't find any pictures or video of "heel to toe" technique. If someone could find some and post it, it would be good for a comparison.

snail_male's picture
Joined: Jul 21 2009
Posts: 631
Those vids are very helpful.

Those vids are very helpful. The animator in me wants to break down the motion, so I tracked the ankle joint in a freeze frame of the 1500m run - it came out in something of a tilted ellipse (more of a banana shape, so the feet could clear the body on their return swing forward!), with the higher tight radius at the back "kick" and the lower tight radius out in front of the body, but the actual lowest point is where it hits the ground, [i]under[/i] the centre of gravity. [IMG=490x429]http://i645.photobucket.com/albums/uu178/snail_male/tmp-runEllipse.jpg[/...
I'm no expert, but I'm suspicious that - ideally - as we speed up our pace the feet [i]might[/i] feel like they are reaching farther forward - but likely they're still in the air, to develop something of a pedaling motion that resolves when the feet contact the ground more directly underneath our centre of gravity.

I find that when I really haul on the track (hey! no laughing... it's all relative, right?!) - like for 50m pickups/sprints - I can literally feel myself rise up higher and my legs/feet track more of that pedalling sensation and it feels like I am barely touching the ground... definitely up onto only the balls/toes of my feet; it's an incredible sensation, and I wish I was fit enough for it to last as long as the elites can experience it... I flame out after a few metres of this!

The important thing that - in my opinion - has allowed me to finish up in the higher percentiles in a few of my run races, injury free, is to modify this principle for the slower paces of longer events, always being mindful of getting that contact point shoved below me instead of out front, and it's been sweet sailing ever since (knock on wood). It's probably closer to a mid-foot than a forefoot strike, but I can tell it's not a heel strike since my soles have no appreciable wear back there!

________________________
http://snail-male.blogspot.ca

cjhoffmn's picture
Joined: Sep 3 2007
Posts: 704
It seems like you're saying

It seems like you're saying you don't really see the heel strike as something that really happens, if I read that right. I don't think you'll find too much in high end racers, so looking at those videos, its probably not often seen. But look at any pictures (or videos) of amateur runners... I think its a whole different world.
Here are a few I found pretty quickly:
[url=http://4.bp.blogspot.com/--my4Xy7aYX4/T1LI_6mFrCI/AAAAAAAAASg/KGXNj6aldx... that leg is out in front[/url]
[url=http://coasthillsrunningclub.com/images/header1.jpg]That's landing on the Heel for Sure[/url]
[url=http://ferretrunner.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/running-05.jpg]Very Straight Front Leg[/url]
[url=http://sp.life123.com/bm.pix/bigstockphoto_woman_running_722638.s600x600... Has to Go Up and Over[/url]
[url=http://www.werunwild.com/files/0000/0029/new_web_pic.JPG]Runner's Delight[/url]

and just because this conversation can't be had without seeing this:
[url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=nGojEyYBmwc]Run... Styles[/url]

I'm with the guys above, I used to do it, recognized it and changed it. It helped me to do that.

Just my $.02

hamlet_cat's picture
Joined: Aug 4 2010
Posts: 1068
cjhoffmn wrote:It seems like

[quote=cjhoffmn]It seems like you're saying you don't really see the heel strike as something that really happens, if I read that right.
[/quote]
No not really. My point was only that sometimes it might look like someone is "heel striking" when actually they aren't.

That video is just too funny.

big 3's picture
Joined: Jun 10 2007
Posts: 762
Not to take this off topic.

Not to take this off topic. This is just so absurd tho'.
[url]http://www.outsideonline.com/blog/the-vibram-lawsuit.html[/url]

hamlet_cat's picture
Joined: Aug 4 2010
Posts: 1068
big 3 wrote:Not to take this

[quote=big 3]Not to take this off topic. This is just so absurd tho'.
[/quote]

It is absurd, but I think it's great. There are so many bogus claims out there backed up on sketchy research. I hope she wins!

TaoSurfing's picture
Joined: Apr 15 2009
Posts: 107
Ah, another frivolous

Ah, another frivolous lawsuit. The end of the article struck me as ludicrous though:

"But my great hope is that runners can get away from the emphasis on shoes and form, and refocus the conversation about running to something more important—how wonderful running is, for example."

I've run in crappy shoes and with even crappier form, and when that was the case, running was not wonderful in the least. If it weren't for those random times where it all seemed to click, if only for a few minutes, and it felt like I wasn't running over the earth but that the earth was moving under me, I would have given it up long before I ever started figuring out shoes and form.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9u5w7qxVSEo

Ironmom's picture
Joined: Nov 30 2006
Posts: 1820
I love seeing photos of heel

I love seeing photos of heel strikers. They are all future clients for swim coaches. The conversation I have on the pool deck every other week:

Swim Client: I want to learn to lap swim better
Me: Tell me about your goals
Swim Client: I used to be a runner, but since my {knees, shin splints, ankles, plantar fasciitis, hips} got so bad, I can't run any more. So I figured lap swimming would be a good alternative

And in a town like "Track Town USA" where I live, there are ALWAYS new clients! Viva the cushioned running shoe. Viva the heel strike!

Anton's picture
Joined: Mar 4 2005
Posts: 5352
Ironmom wrote:I love seeing

[quote=Ironmom]I love seeing photos of heel strikers. They are all future clients for swim coaches. The conversation I have on the pool deck every other week:

Swim Client: I want to learn to lap swim better
Me: Tell me about your goals
Swim Client: I used to be a runner, but since my {knees, shin splints, ankles, plantar fasciitis, hips} got so bad, I can't run any more. So I figured lap swimming would be a good alternative

And in a town like "Track Town USA" where I live, there are ALWAYS new clients! Viva the cushioned running shoe. Viva the heel strike![/quote]
The question I always ask folks who say" I used to run..." is: Did you play ball sports?
The guy who rebuilt my ankle (rolled it running in a minimal shoe btw) and another Orthopod I run with from time to time both agree that pure runners aren't a problem. It's folks who played ball sports who are all trashed up as well as folks who simply aren't built to run long distances but insist on it. After 42 years of running and cycling and only running and biking I had some trauma to my left knee last year. ( was pushed down at a marathon and landed on the knee) My Dr. friend did the scope and came out and said I have the knees of a 15 year old and thought It was due to two factors. 1) I never played ball sports,@) I have the genetics that have allowed me to go this long with no wear and tear on my meniscus which remains quite thick.
The question is: If Minimal shoes had been all there ever were, like my first real running shoes Onitsuka Tigers and Nike Boston 73, would my knees still be as good? Did Cushioned shoes allow me to run this many years with little to no damage. ( I am a mid foot striker at speed and heel striker while noodling around)
Now I get minimal. I started in minimal (1970) and remember my first pair of cushioned shoes (Etonic Street Fighters). I have been playing with minimal drop (Montrail Bajada, PureFlow) and zero drop (Altras) both are nice and feel ok to run in. As I sit here I'm wearing a pair of Hoka Bondi B. 4 mm of drop and a huge cushion. My legs simply don't feel any shock in them, and I can come in from a run with no muscle soreness later on.
I've been running Mary's and Ultras lately. At Disney I see tons of folks in VFF. Running the road. After the races they walk around with big bags of Ice taped to their knees. At three recent Ultras I've seen plenty of minimal but only ONE pair of VFFs at each race. At a recent Ultra festival Hokas were everywhere and being worn by very experienced UR's. Folks who obsess about shoes as much as I do and probably have a closet full of minimal and low drop.
I think zero to minimal drop shoes that are well cushioned are coming down the pike.
It will be interesting to see what washes out and what lasts 5 years from now.
Like a hard core bike friend of mine says: "If Jan Ulrich had won 7 Tours we'd all be grinding out big gears at slow RPM. But he didn't. Lance did, so we spin at a high RPM."
There is a reason VFF can be had for 50% off at a lot of the stores I frequent.
A lot of it has to do with what's frosty.
A lot of this is fashion.

hamlet_cat's picture
Joined: Aug 4 2010
Posts: 1068
@Anton. What does the term

@Anton. What does the term "minimal drop" mean?

TaoSurfing's picture
Joined: Apr 15 2009
Posts: 107
@Anton, Had not heard of

@Anton,

Had not heard of Hoka One One before and, after reading up on them, am interested. One review I read listed extended durability as a plus and the tread wearing out fast as a negative, leaving me somewhat confused and hesitant given they things are more expensive than Newtons. Can you shed any light on that?

Shit Runners Say To Barefoot Runners:

http://howtorunbarefoot.com/?p=346

Anton's picture
Joined: Mar 4 2005
Posts: 5352
A minimal drop shoe is a

A minimal drop shoe is a shoe with only a 3 or 4 mm difference in footbed heel thickness and toe thickness. My Saucony Xodus 3.o trail shoes are a 4mm drop from heel to toe. My usual road shoe An Asics Nimbus is around 10mm. I have been playing in Altras which are zero drop i.e.. no difference between the thickness of in the heel and toe. They're flat.
The whole business being, of course, that more cushioning, like 10mm is supposed to prevent injury, but may be causing injury. I think the Jury is still out. It will take some years before we'll really know.
As to the Hoka, one guy I ran with at the 50, he was doing the hundred, said he had 800 miles on the pair he was wearing. Some of the tread had worn off, but the cushioning was still there. He seemed pretty obsessive so I figured he tracked his shoe mile. I'm not obsessive and I do.
As to running injuries, I came across the Stanford Study, which I remember reading when it came out, I had forgotten about. Completed in 2008 tracked 528 runners and 423 non-runners starting in 1984. The study confirms what LIFELONG runners have always suspected:
Runners suffer few disabilities
Running delays age related disabilities by two decades
Runners are 7 TIMES less likely to need a knee replacement
Running DOESN'T lead to increased hip back or knee problems
Runners suffer less cancer and nerve problems
Runners are half as likely to to die early
(In the mail box today arrived my copy of Running Times with a great article on running longevity which mentions the study)
All of these results came about BEFORE the minimal barefoot craze really hit. All those miles run in shoes that folks now think are horrible for you. Meanwhile, the number of people suffering stress fractures, stress reaction and other sorts of injuries from running in minimal to barefoot shoes has increased. Sure some of that is because there are more trying it but doing it incorrectly i.e.. not acclimating.
So I just don't buy the "old runners turn to crap because they are bad shoe heel strikers" idea. There are other factors as I posted earlier.

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