Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Achieve Olympic feet with barefoot running

Date:
July 2, 2012
Source:
Northumbria University
Summary:
British Olympic runners could run more economically by just taking off their shoes, say researchers.

Dr Mick Wilkinson barefoot running.
Credit: Image courtesy of Northumbria University

Olympic runners could run more economically by just taking off their trainers, say researchers at Northumbria University.

In new research, Dr Michael Wilkinson found that when runners who always wear shoes run barefoot they immediately alter their gait to that characteristic of habitual barefoot runners, and also use less oxygen during barefoot running compared to running with shoes at the same speed. This indicates greater running economy which is an important determinant of distance running performance, especially in elite runners.

Habitual barefoot runners have a distinctive running gait -- using mid-foot landings, shorter stride lengths, faster stride rates, and less time in contact with the ground. They are also known to hit the ground with lower impact force and loading rates than runners who land on the rear foot in trainers. This cushions the force of landing, avoiding the discomfort associated with striking the ground heel-first common in runners who wear shoes.

In the study, a mix of 18 recreational and highly trained runners participated in a six-minute moderate running task both barefoot and in shoes on separate days. During the runs, oxygen uptake was measured to assess energy expenditure and gait was analyzed using digitalized video footage.

The runners reduced their stride length and ground contact time, increased their stride rate and, on average, used less oxygen during barefoot compared to shod running at the same speed, indicating greater economy. The 6% improvement in economy was the same as that previously reported after a nine-week training program for shoe-wearing runners, who also enjoyed a 3% improvement in running performance.

The results suggest that, by ditching their trainers, athletes new to barefoot running adopt a running style similar to experienced barefoot runners and enjoy an immediate and likely beneficial increase in running economy.

Dr Wilkinson is an expert in the physiology of exercise and a barefoot runner for more than six years, completing the Great North Run barefoot in 2011. He said: "There's a difference between shod and barefoot running gaits that comes about from feeling the ground. The sensory feedback when running barefoot encourages runners to put their feet down more gently in an attempt to avoid the impact forces that would cause discomfort and are also linked to injury.

"We saw a significant saving in energy from taking off running shoes. There were also mechanical differences in the foot strike pattern, with those who usually strike the ground with their heel first when they run with shoes, altering their pattern and striking the ground with the more cushioned mid-foot instead when barefoot."

Previous studies have found that populations who habitually run barefoot report a low prevalence of lower-limb injury, suggesting that plantar-sensory feedback (being able to feel the nature of the terrain and adjust the force your feet apply to the ground) plays an important role in safe running.

Dr Wilkinson and his colleague Phil Hayes will disseminate their research and the science behind barefoot running benefits to athletic groups in the North East this month.

Dr Wilkinson added: "Running barefoot is a hot topic in both running and scientific communities at present. High profile scientific studies have been popularized by the media reporting potential benefits of running barefoot for injury reduction and performance improvement.

"However, there is much misinformation being broadcast on the internet and in running magazines about barefoot running, little of which is based on current evidence from scientific investigations.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northumbria University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northumbria University. "Achieve Olympic feet with barefoot running." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120702133246.htm>.
Northumbria University. (2012, July 2). Achieve Olympic feet with barefoot running. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120702133246.htm
Northumbria University. "Achieve Olympic feet with barefoot running." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120702133246.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins