Friday, February 21, 2014

Running Injuries Linked To Your Footstrike

Photo by Jordan Shakeshaft from flickr
I wrote earlier that the minimalist/ barefoot inspired type running shoes sales were declining, however researchers seem to be very keen on finding how they affect running still. To put it simply, researchers are very interested to find out if barefoot running, minimalist shoes or how you land (forefoot, mid or rear) can reduce injuries.

A group of South African researchers specifically studied how barefoot running (or forefoot striking) affects five common running injuries.

Bear in mind that many researchers and runners alike tend to assume "barefoot running" and running with forefoot/ midfoot strike as similar although some studies have shown differences.

Well, here are the main points on the five common running injuries. Regarding shin splints/ tibial stress fractures injuries are decreased by barefoot running although runners have to be extra careful with transition time from their previous more cushioned shoes.

Increased incidences of metatarsal (or your foot) stress fractures with barefoot running. I've seen some of our patients with metatarsal fractures after switching to Vibram Five Fingers.

As I've written earlier before, good news if you have knee pain as it may be reduced by barefoot running, but not so good news if you have Achilles tendon injuries as it may be increased with barefoot running.

For those of you with plantar fasciitis, barefoot running can reduce this if you gradually and correctly transition from your cushioned running shoes.

Well, as you can see, nothing is foolproof yet with barefoot running. What the researchers were sure was that bad training practices like training too much too soon, running too fast and hard are the major causes of running injuries. And my favourite, they mentioned that good (i.e. correct) running technique may be more important than shoe selection.

Tam N, Wilson JLA, Noakes TD and Tucker R. (2013). Barefoot Running: An Evaluation Of Current Hypothesis, Future Research And Clinical Applications. BJSM. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2013-092404.

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