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Posts Tagged ‘footwear’

Over the Christmas and New Year holidays, I read the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougal. I heard about this book while listening to a webinar and gave it a read. This best-selling book has obvious appeal, but as an athletic trainer, I found the book to be a very interesting read.

On the heels of that, I came across the following study yesterday: The Effect of Running Shoes on Lower Extremity Joint Torques published in the December 2009 issue of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

If the book hadn’t caused me to pause and re-evaluate what I think I know about running injuries and their subsequent causes, the study certainly does.

The book, Born to Run, takes us on Christopher’s journey to answer the question that he had: Why does my foot hurt? Throughout the book, the reader is challenged to re-evaluate what we “know” (or think we know) about running. Probably the most fascinating part of the book was Christopher’s discussion of the advent of footwear and how the incidence of injury has not significantly decreased despite the latest technology and latest models of running shoes currently available. In fact, the notion that the more expensive the running shoe, the more likely a runner is to sustain injury is offered in the book.

The study is challenging as well. It combined barefoot runner with runners shod with shoes and measured lower extremity joint torques in both scenarios. The study showed that there were indeed increased joint torques at the hip, knee, and ankle in those with running shoes compared with those running barefoot.

“An average 54% increase in the hip internal rotation torque, a 36% increase in knee flexion torque, and a 38% increase in knee varus torque were measured when running in running shoes compared with barefoot.”

The authors did go on to list some limitations with the study but the results of this particular study do cause us to reassess the role that running shoes potentially play in contributing to lower extremity injuries.

While I am not suggesting that you start telling everyone to run in leather sandals or run entirely barefoot, these two literary pieces should at the very least get us to reevaluate what we think about running, running related injuries, and footwear.

As we take the research and meld it with our experience, maybe our opinions will remain unchanged – maybe not. But don’t be afraid to reassess what we “think we know” and challenge yourself to think critically.

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