Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Should I Wear Running Shoes?

Wait, I thought running shoes were bad for me

Over the past few years you may have heard many proponents of barefoot running arguing that today's running shoes are 'overkill' and compromise our natural running mechanics.  A new study now shows us that under certain circumstances, running shoes may actually decrease the energy cost when compared to going barefoot.

In a recent study conducted at the University of Colorado at Boulder researchers wanted to find if wearing running shoes required more energy than going barefoot. The researchers recruited 12 well-trained barefoot runners. Choosing well-trained barefoot runners was important since novice barefoot runners have a much different running pattern when compared to the veteran.

Many believe that running with shoes increases energy demands during running since they add weight to your feet and you have to push that weight through space every step.

Researchers in this study had runners wear a relatively lightweight (~100 grams)cushioned shoe versus not wearing shoes at all. The participants in the study ran multiple times on treadmills while either wearing the shoes or running barefoot.  The runners also were tested with 100 gram weights to the top of the runners bare foot.  By adding equal amounts of weight to the barefoot runner's foot, effectively taking weight of the shoe out of the equation, they could learn if barefoot running really was physiologically more efficient than wearing shoes.

The researchers found that during barefoot running, runners used almost 4% more energy during every step when compared to those who were in shoes.

It is important to note that the study looked at only metabolic efficiency of wearing shoes when compared to running barefoot. The study did not take into account the common claims that barefoot running lowers injury risk.  Researchers did agree that wearing heavy shoes increases the metabolic cost of running and so those trying to decrease the metabolic cost of running should look for more lightweight models of shoes.  The research still supports the use of running shoes to improve running efficiency.

Ref: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/21/making-the-case-for-running-shoes/?src=tp

No comments:

Post a Comment