Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Running Shoes - More thoughts

Zola Budd

I've had one or two posts about running shoes in the past, the ultimate message of which was that simpler shoes are better. As I was reminded this weekend at an RKC kettlebell workshop this is also a principle worth bearing in mind for some types of lifting. Thinner shoes - or even going barefoot - allows your proprioception to improve: there is better feedback in terms of balance. That at least is the position of the Pavel / RKC school.

Anyway, Ross and Jonathan over at the Science in Sport blog have had a couple more posts on the science of running shoes. I really enjoyed yesterday's post:

Running shoes, barefoot running and muscle tuning: The intelligent biomachine and implications for running

They make some interesting points and note that the business aspect of the running shoe industry might sometimes produce its own problems!

Of course, problems do develop and injuries do happen, and when they do, it's fascinating to wonder whether in fact the cause might be the change that we try to introduce to fix the problem! Is it possible that clever product development, based on theories and concepts, have actually forced the body into a "wrong" response that has increased injury risk in the long term? And is there a chance that if we just left physiology to its own devices, and managed every case individually, we'd be better off?

So to continue the theme of the running shoe, the shift in the industry has without doubt been towards a more "natural" shoe. Of course, they can't sell "barefoot" (that's free!), so the next best thing is to be barefoot in shoes, which is where it's going. Practically, however, the challenge for everyone is to manage that, and not simply leap from one extreme to the next, as mentioned above.

Vern Gambetta's comments:

I do not advocate the higher heeled shoes worn as training shoes today. I also believe in training barefoot given the correct surface and situation.

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