Amazing Outdoor Workouts: Run
Lace up and hit the road (or path or trail). Whether you’re an enthusiastic newbie or an iron-calved veteran, there’s plenty to explore.
Is Barefoot Running Really That Great?
Back in 2009, Harvard’s Daniel Lieberman introduced runners to a startling concept: The shoes they’d purchased for heel cushioning and support were actually causing them to adopt an unnatural and potentially injury-producing gait. Humans have evolved to land on their forefeet while running, the argument went, but the excess padding on modern footwear causes people to strike with their heels instead. Lieberman advocated for the forefoot strike (what many call barefoot-style running), and almost immediately, testimonials started rolling in from runners who’d ditched their kicks: Nagging injuries had vanished. Lieberman’s research helped set off a boom in minimalist, fashionably iffy footwear.
But not everyone was convinced that running without shoes was categorically better. Earlier this year, University of Colorado researcher Rodger Kram published a study suggesting that runners who give up their shoes take on a little extra work — up to 4 percent more — than those who run in lightweight trainers.
By this logic, it looks like lightly padded sneakers may provide the optimal balance: better efficiency than barefoot running, and anecdotally, better injury prevention than heavily padded shoes—once runners learn how to land on their forefeet. But more studies are needed about footwear’s link to injuries. — Lesley Hocking