Friday, January 29, 2010

Even More on Running Shoes

I always enjoy reading the blog written by Ross Tucker, PhD of Cape Town University and Jonathan Dugas, PhD of the University of Illinois in Chicago. They have a level-headed approach to training that I admire and they seem to be open to new ideas. Many in sport science (as in any science, I suppose) are deathly afraid of change because it means rethinking the area of suggested change and its overlapping areas. Acceptance of new ways also suggests that nothing is above re-examining and possibly changing. Change is scary.

But being open-minded to the possibility of change does not mean that every new idea that comes down the pike should be accepted at face value. That would lead to chaos in science as in any area of endeavor. New ways of seeing the world of training for endurance sport should be viewed with some degree of skepticism while taking a hard look at the concept from both a scientific and a real-world perspective. Tucker and Dugas seem to balance this very nicely.

I bring this up because they have just posted to their blog a piece on minimalist running shoes, barefoot running and normally shod running. It examines the science behind the website I mentioned a couple of days ago on this topic. If you're considering running in a less supportive shoe or even no shoe at all be sure to read the Tucker-Dugas post before making the switch.



At January 29, 2010 11:43 AM , Blogger Kevin McMahon said...

Thanks for the link, Joe. Like the clear, unambiguous way in which the author walks the reader through the mechanical benefits of barefoot running while not minimizing the potential for injury faced by those making a change to "minimal" footware. He mentions the fact that many of us (most here in the Western world I wager) have muscles and tendons in our lower legs and feet that are woefully underdeveloped (my characterization). I think the next step in this discussion is to review the methods for building up our tissues in this area - I'd imagine that barefoot or not, a more robust and strong system in our legs would prevent injury over time. Any thoughts?

At January 29, 2010 2:26 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

Kevin M--Thanks for your comment. The key to moving to less of a shoe or even barefoot running is small changes in that direction over a long period of time. Unfortunately, most of us want it to happen immediately. And just start running barefoot or with a minimal shoe - for all runs. Within a few days there is an injury or at least extreme soreness. This is not an overnight thing if you've been using traditional shoes with massive soles and support for a long time. It's probably several months of gradual change and could easily take a year. Patience is a virtue few endurance athletes possess.

At January 29, 2010 5:37 PM , Anonymous Joel said...

As above, thanks for the link. I've been thinking about this for a while (going minimal) just to change up training and to see if some of the occasional lower back pain I have would be eased. Gives me more to research and think about.

At January 30, 2010 11:07 AM , Blogger mattGT said...

Check out this weeks edition of Nature. Cover story and journal article about running patterns on barefoot vs. shod runners. Kenyan runners were analyized. Lots of good biomechanical data.
Haven't read the whole article yet, sitting on my desk waiting for me.

How would you transition a regularly shod runner to a low-tech shoe, or a 'shoe' similar to a 5-fingers? I think there would be a risk of injury if done too quickly.

Love the dialogue on this topic.
Keep the good posts coming.

At January 30, 2010 11:08 AM , Blogger mattGT said...

Sorry, hadn't linked to the article in your post yet. Same one. Ooops.

At January 31, 2010 6:03 PM , Blogger Brian said...

Mr Friel, After years of pain and injury I switched to midfoot via Chi running last year, haven't been hurt since although did have very sore achilles around the calf area until they became accustomed to the low heel position experienced with minimal shoes or barefoot. Seems to be very common in shoe transitioning.
I went through years of pain and recovery until I started the midfoot (flat foot) strike, reminds me of the old Marks joke "doctor it hurts when I do this...," the doctor says "Well don't do that...", once I stopped doing "that" (heel striking, toe off, in fat shoes) it didn't hurt anymore.
I’ve rid myself of stability shoes and orthodics and have not had to take a break from running to recover from an injury since.

One thing I notice though is after long runs in minimal shoes (15-20 miles) the soles of my feet will feel a radiating throb and may be a little tender for a day. Could you offer any suggestions as to what I should be addressing. This isn’t a show stopper in the least but I would like to move up to Ultras and think I should figure that out as soon as I can. Thank You

At February 1, 2010 10:34 AM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

brian--Don't know. Could be plantar fascia adapting. Maybe someone else has experienced and can comment.

At February 1, 2010 2:23 PM , Blogger Psyche said...

I follow both your blog and the Sports Scientists'. Love them both, and love the attention this topic gets.

I transitioned out of traditional trainers (over time) over a year ago, and run up to 85 mpw in a racing flat with a low heel. I've had great results. No injuries since making the change. In fact, I wear the flat until it falls apart, instead of replacing it after it's "dead", and I still do well.
I occasionally get the same feeling Brian describes above. I have thought that it's possibly caused by two things: 1) I have very bony feet, so for me, it may be an unavoidable by-product of pounding the road, and 2)Fatigue- whenever I have a lot of accumulated fatigue, an example of which would be at the end of a long run, my stride falls apart and I spend more time on the ground, resulting in that soreness.

I can't help having bony feet, but perhaps improving biomechanics/ efficiency through drills and plain old running more is an option to consider.

At February 2, 2010 8:09 PM , Blogger Brian said...

Those are good points Psyche, I think when I get tired I may start slapping em down. I'll have to be more mindful, I was also thinking with the winter I haven't run barefoot since Nov. I think unshod helps me be more aware of my form and keeps my feet strong

At February 3, 2010 10:55 AM , Blogger eChiFitness said...

Congratulations on all of injury-free success via ChiRunning. I have a similar story ... and I think ultras can also in your future.

That soreness could certainly be adaptation, but it can also be impact possibly combined with tension. A tense foot interacting with a hard ground is very different than a soft relaxed foot interacting with a hard ground.

ChiRunning suggests a relaxed midfoot (fullfoot) landing. Some aids to that:
- Ankle Rolls Body Loosener
- Loosen up your shoe laces, this also helps to limit horizontal forces in the feet.

CR also suggests running 'soft' and light. Some aids to that:
- Think about picking your heels up and forget about putting your feet down. Run thinking 'up, up, up, up ...' with the heels.
- Run taller and think light. It is amazing how a mental thought makes you light or heavy.
- Increase your cadence. Efficient range is 85-90.
- Try to be very quiet. Run as if you are trying to sneak up on someone. Again, this helps to limit horizontal forces in the feet. This also helps to limit vertical forces (impact).
- Bend your knees more so your feet make more of a circular pattern.

Hope this helps.

David Stretanski
ChiRunning® Certified Instructor
NJ/Northeast USA

At February 8, 2010 2:43 PM , Blogger Brian said...

David, I kept your advice in mind while I did a 20 mile trail run on Saturday and no "hot feet" afterwards. Thanks! I started out with the same feeling but after a while I settled in and focused on being light, relaxed and loose. I was a bit surprised, I thought I was running light on previous runs but I must have been stomping a bit.

Thank You Again,

At February 8, 2010 4:32 PM , Blogger eChiFitness said...

Brian, great - congrats on the adjustment; it may take some practice/time to make it more of a habit. We have a tendency to 'live' tense and heavy; and that can be mirrored in our running unless we consciously work at it.

I will be at the Sports Medicine Symposium and Coaching Clinic (Freehold NJ) with you on Feb 20th - presenting ChiRunning. Looking forward to meeting you.


David Stretanski
ChiRunning® Certified Instructor
NJ/Northeast USA

At February 12, 2010 12:19 AM , Anonymous DC Shoes UK said...

running with shoes is an invitation to an injury, your article "running shoes" is really informative and convinceable for those, whose like run with barefoot.

At March 15, 2010 6:08 AM , Anonymous K_Swiss said...

wow the blog is really informative and i really appreciate the effort of the blogger from the core of my heart anyway one thing that we must keep in mind when are going to buy running shoes is that are must be more we can say that more comfortable...


Post a Comment

<< Home