Wearing running shoes without cushioning and landing on the balls of your feet puts less strain on the body, according to research from the University of Exeter.
The study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal was designed to measure the loading rate of runners (when their feet hit the ground), a factor in injury risk.
Twenty-nine runners were involved in the study, with those wearing ‘minimal’ trainers recording significantly lower loading rates than people in standard running shoes.
People wearing cushioned footwear are said to land more often on their heels, known as ‘rearfoot strike’, while someone running without shoes would land on the ball of their foot, known as ‘forefoot strike.’ The rearfoot strike is believed to result in an ‘abrupt vertical impact force’, which is often missing from the forefoot strike.
Many runners experience injuries because they purchase inappropriate footwear, despite footwear being highly modifiable.
However, Lead Author of the study Dr Hannah Rice says, ‘our research tells us that becoming accustomed to running with a forefoot strike in shoes that lack cushioning promotes a landing with the lowest loading rates, and this may be beneficial in reducing the risk of injury.’
Look out for an article on running injuries and prevention in the next issue of International Therapist, out in January 2017.