Despite a number changes to the modern running shoe, runners continue to be plagued by injuries. Could running styles could limit these injuries? Are there other ways we can move to stave off injury?
There probably is some biomechanical ‘best way’ to run, but with the vast differences in each individual, your best way is going to be different to my best way. Is the type of shoe you’re wearing going to make a difference? Dr. Kelly Starret (physiologist and coach) is quoted saying, “the idea that there’s a magical shoe that fits your movement dysfunction and minimizes the errors in your movement is… weird [is BS]”.
Books like ‘Born to Run’ (which describes a man who escaped running induced low back pain by running without shoes) and various articles report “favourable biomechanical changes during running” (1) due to “changed limb position” (2) and “change stride length” (3), but there are almost equal amount of studies showing no benefit.
A lot of it comes down to personal comfort. A number of studies have shown when a shoe was selected simply on comfort, the number of injuries significantly decreased (4). This had also been suggested by others in the health and fitness community, “the most important factor by far in choosing a shoe is comfort”, “experiment, test, try as many different types and styles of shoe as possible“ Jason Fitzgerld (Running Coach).
Ultimately, “like in any sport, we need to make running about skill, not [just] about exercise. If you do that, you’re going to invest energy, time, and brainpower into learning that skill”(5) and basicly move better overall. The more we become aware of what our bodies are doing and where our bodies are moving, the better we will be for it.
What you can do:
Start by simply aligning your posture throughout the day, like tucking in your shirt or washing your hands. Run small spot checks throughout the day like – Are your feet straight? If not, adjust them into a neutral position. Is your posture ok? If not, take a breath and organize your spine, “This standard is mostly about constant vigilance, it cannot be an afterthought. (It even builds some of your exercise into your day, bonus!)”(6). Even learning different sorts of aftercare, like how to use a foam roller or lacrosse ball, can help us get ahead of those aches and pains that often sneak up on us.
If you do decide to make changes in shoe or technique everyone should proceed cautiously, transitioning very slowly and gradually to avoid acute injury. If you can learn the essentials for preparing your body, you won’t only be ready to run in a various shoes you’ll be prepared to move in various ways.
- Grewal, G., Bareither, M. L., Walthers, M., Lee-Eng, J., Goebel, R., & Najafi, B. (2014). Stance Quantified in Real World Scenario: Changes in Knee Joint Kinematic between Shod and Barefoot Running.Clinical Research on Foot & Ankle.
- McCarthy, C., Fleming, N., Donne, B., & Blanksby, B. (2014). Barefoot Running and Hip Kinematics: Good News for the Knee?.Medicine and science in sports and exercise.
- Thompson, M. A., Gutmann, A., Seegmiller, J., & McGowan, C. P. (2014). The effect of stride length on the dynamics of barefoot and shod running.Journal of biomechanics, 47(11), 2745-2750.
- Mundermann, A., Stefanyshyn, D. J., & Nigg, B. M. (2001). Relationship between footwear comfort of shoe inserts and anthropometric and sensory factors.Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 33(11), 1939-1945.
- English, N (2015, March). Here’s What Actually Matters When Shopping for Running Shoes [Web log post] Retrieved March 15, 2015, http://greatist.com/move/running-shoes-gait-analysis
- Starrett, K. & Murphy, T.J. (2014). Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally