Well the rehabilitation of my calf continues at a slow pace but signs of improvement are there. Basically, I am continuing with the bent knee calf raises and gentle jogging/easy running, trying to gradually increase the the distance. So hopefully I can progress back to 'proper' running sooner rather than later.
I know a number of readers of this blog also read Terry Lonergans blog Running on Empty. Last week Terry wrote about minimalist / barefoot running and cushioned shoes, and regular readers of this blog will know that I have raised the subject a couple of times. It was with this in mind that I was interested to see the findings of a new study by Rodger Kram of the University of Colorado, which was recently published in 'Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise'.
The findings of this study have shown that runners in their sample ran more efficiently (based on oxygen consumption at a given pace) than when they ran barefoot.
Although the study, predictably confirmed that the more mass the researchers added to each foot the less efficient the runners became it also found that wearing shoes made the learner more efficient by 3% - 4%.
The study proposed two possible explanations for this:
Firstly, runners spontaneously took slightly larger strides (about 3.3%) when wearing shoes and these larger strides may have helped them to become more efficient.
Secondly, that the cushioning in the shoes; saying that without the cushioning the runners leg muscles have to expend metabolic energy to absorb the impact of each stride.
So perhaps the question should be how much cushioning rather than if we should have cushioning in our running shoes.