3 April 2012 Barefoot Running Vs. Traditional Running The Pros and Cons Barefoot running, as opposed to traditional running in shoes (shod running) is now an emerging trend among leisure as well as professional runners…
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While some dismiss the growing trend of barefoot running as a mere fad, some believe it will be a new wave in the history of sports. Innumerable debates have ensued in popular media over which one, barefoot running or shod running, is better, more beneficial and safer. However, scientific evidence is not yet enough to settle the debate. A lot of research has gone into analyzing the biomechanics, impact characteristics, etc of traditional and barefoot running and based on the findings of these studies, the pros and cons of both types of running have been weighed. The use of cushioned and protective footwear for running began in the 1970s with the invention of modern running shoes (Lieberman et al. 531). Prior to this invention, humans ran with none or minimal footwear. Human ancestors used simple and minimal foot coverings such as moccasins made of leather (Jenkins and Cauthon 231). Earlier dogmas claim that human feet are “evolutionarily unsuccessful” and that they are fragile because of which protective cushioning for the feet is vital (Jenkins and Cauthon 231). However, this dogma was refuted by a study in Nature, which argues that human ancestors, who practiced barefoot running, were remarkably good at endurance running and that it may have been “instrumental in the evolution of the human body form” (Bramble and Lieberman 345). ...
As most of the present research on this subject is yet inconclusive and is still in progress, it cannot be ascertained as to whether barefoot running is better than shod running, but the pros and cons can however be weighed based on currently available evidence. I. Pros of Barefoot Running vs. Traditional Running A. Less susceptibility to injury in barefoot running The surging interest in barefoot running has been largely because the rates of running-related injuries are high amongst shod runners as compared to barefoot runners (Robillard 13; Edwards, Foster and Wallack 150). Kerrigan et al. (2009) have shown that the hip, knee and ankle joints are more prone to injury in shod runners than in barefoot runners, making them more susceptible to disorders such as knee osteoarthritis. In another study, Hamill et al. (2011) found that the footfall patterns in shod running and barefoot running are different, and therefore, the impact patterns of the two types of running vary from one another. The differences in impact patterns are responsible for varying extents of injury caused by both types of running. Robbins and Hanna have also shown that barefoot running populations report an extremely low frequency of running related injury (148). They further state that the human foot has developed adaptations that result in shock absorption and these adaptations are non-functional in traditional running. Many other studies such as those by Warburton have found that barefoot running is associated with a significantly low rate of acute ankle injuries and chronic lower leg injuries. Scientific data as to the level of protection of athletic
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