Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Injury update and a debate continues

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.

1 comment:

Antony Bradford said...

Great to here that your re-hab is going well.

Regarding the study, I can't really imaging anyone would be interested in running barefoot. I think the only advantage would be saving money on a pair of shoes. I can not really think of a course where barefoot would be suitable - a soft grass field or track maybe, but the risk of standing on something and damaging your feet would be quite high.

Quite often in the line up of races I see some runners with these minimalist shoes on. It is usually the front runners so there may be something in this!

When I first started running(in 1995) I always used to think that the more cushioning the better. I decided what could be better than running on two air bags, so my choice of shoe was the air max light by Nike. After increasing the mileage I started to develop a niggly injury in my knee. The more running I did the worse it became. After seeing a specialist he decided that the cushioning was too much, this was causing too much pronation of my feet. This then led to excess movement further up and injury to my knee. I then switched to the Ascics range which felt like running in clogs after the Nike shoes but the injuries soon stopped. Needless to say I still run in Ascics today.