Biomechanics: Barefoot running is better?

Cover of Nature Science JournalThis article just published in Nature (the most prestigious science journal above all others)  explains the differences in the biomechanics of running with vs. running without shoes.  One difference I thought was interesting was the fact that better shock absorption occurs from surrounding lower extremity musculature without shoes.   “As their feet collide with the ground–in this case, a running track–barefoot runners experience a shock of only 0.5 to 0.7 times their body weight, whereas shod heel strikers experience 1.5 to two times their body weight–a threefold to fourfold difference.”

Nature 463, 433-434 (28 January 2010) | doi:10.1038/463433a; Published online 27 January 2010

William L. Jungers1

Abstract: Detailed analyses of foot kinematics and kinetics in barefoot and shod runners offer a refined understanding of bipedalism in human evolution. This research will also prompt fresh studies of running injuries.

A commitment to walking and running on two legs distinguishes humans from apes, and has long been the defining adaptation of the hominins — the lineages that include both humans and our extinct relatives. This form of locomotion (bipedalism) has been around for millions of years, and we have been unshod for more than 99% of that time1.

1.William L. Jungers is in the Department of Anatomical Sciences, Stony Brook University Medical Center, Stony Brook, New York 11794-8081, USA.

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