New Running Barefoot Findings

February 2, 2013 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Footwear, Health, Sports 

The Washington Post article caught my eye, “Minimalist running style may be undermined by new findings from Kenya.” The January 21 article by Lenny Bernstein on the web was about a new study published at PLOS One.

Bernstein starts the article with a figure that catches your attention, Americans spent $59 million on “minimalist” running shoes last year, on the premise that the most healthful way to run is the way people have done it for thousands of years: barefoot.

Years after runners everywhere were introduce to running barefoot in 2009 in Born to Run and a 2010 study of Kenya’s famous Kalenjin distance runners, the new study may cause some to rethink how they run.

In the new study, a group of George Washington University researchers tested a different population of barefoot African runners and determined that most of them naturally strike the ground with their heels.

The study at PLOS One is Variation in Foot Strike Patterns during Running among Habitually Barefoot Populations.

The study measured subjects running along a trackway at least three times at their self-selected (comfortable) endurance running pace, and three more times at a faster pace. The track had a plantar pressure pad placed midway along its length.

Close-up images of subjects using a rearfoot strike (A) and a midfoot strike (B).

Close-up images of subjects using a rearfoot strike (A) and a midfoot strike (B).

The article quotes Kevin Hatala, a doctoral student in anthropology at GWU, and how they expected the group’s study of 38 Daasanach subjects of northern Kenya to support Harvard researcher’s Daniel Lieberman’s conclusions about the Kalenjin. Hatala said, “Instead, we found the opposite to be true. In the group we were looking at, the majority of them were rear-foot striking at their preferred endurance running speed.”

Bernstein wrote, At higher speeds, some of the Daasanach switched from a heel strike to a forefoot strike, but even then, heel-striking was more typical. Hatala was reluctant to speculate why his findings differed from the prevailing wisdom. In addition to the effect of speed, running style could be the result of information that is culturally transmitted from generation to generation. Or it might have something to do with the predominant surface where each group lives. Hatala and Lieberman are at the early stages of comparing their data.

“I guess what we found really interesting about this is it directly shows that there is not one way to run barefoot,” Hatala said. “We have a lot more to learn about how people who are barefoot run and what might be the best way to run barefoot.”

The abstract for the study says, “Our data supports the hypothesis that a forefoot strike reduces the magnitude of impact loading, but the majority of subjects instead used a rearfoot strike at endurance running speeds. Their percentages of midfoot and forefoot strikes increased significantly with speed. These results indicate that not all habitually barefoot people prefer running with a forefoot strike, and suggest that other factors such as running speed, training level, substrate mechanical properties, running distance, and running frequency, influence the selection of foot strike patterns.”

Sales of minimalist shoes are up 303 percent between November 2010 and November 2012, compared with a 19 percent increase in running shoe sales overall in the same period.

Are you a barefoot runner? If so, what is your foot strike pattern when running – forefoot, midfoot, or rearfoot? And importantly, does your foot strike change as your pace changes?

Lubricants – One Bad and Lots of Good

August 4, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care Products, Health, Sports 

This post came about because of a Backpacker magazine article about skills. One of the items was about endurance and was for, “Blistered feet during a high-mileage trek.”

The tip was to, “… protect against hot spots by applying a skin lubricant like Vaseline to high-friction areas…”

I’m sorry, but I think Vaseline is a bad choice.

When I ran my first ultra, back around 1982, there was not a huge choice in lubricants so Vaseline was commonly used. But I learned very quickly that its stickiness helped it collect dust and grit, sand and dirt, and other things that found their way into your socks and shoes. Once absorbed into my socks, it also became stiff. I looked for an alternative and discovered Bag Balm, which I used for years.

Over the years, Vaseline has been surpassed by lubricants that are slicker without attracting “stuff’ that can cause hot spots and blisters, that last longer, that don’t cake up on your socks, and that are much more effective.

So, here’s my choice for a bad lubricant: Vaseline.

And here are my choices for good lubricants:

Sportslick Skin Lubricant 

  •             Tube
  •             Solid Stick
  •             Pocket Slick

BodyGlide 

  •             The Original Anti-Chafe Balm
  •             FootGlide Foot Formula
  •             Ant-Chafe with SPF 25 Balm
  •             BodyGlide Anti-Chafe for Her
  •             Liquefied Powder
  •             WarmFX Anti-Pain Balm

BlisterShield

  •             Powder
  •             Roll-On
  •             Towelettes

RunGuard

  •             Anti-Chafe Stick
  •             Anti-Chafe Stick, Sensitive Formula

Hydropel Sports Ointment

Bag Balm

Many of these are available through ZombieRunner. Click on “Anti-chafing & Skin Care.” I you are looking for a new lubricant, or want to try one of these, check them out through  ZombieRunner.

Disclosure: Clicking through to ZombieRunner and making a purchase credits me with a few pennies to support this website.

Feet from the Barkley Marathon

April 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footcare, Sports 

The Barkley Marathon is considered one of the toughest 100-mile races in the world. It has 59,100 feet of climb (and 59,100 feet of descent), more than any other 100-mile race. Since the race began in 1986, only 13 runners out of about 900 have finished within the 60-hour cutoff.

The Barkley consists of 5 20-mile loops with no aid except for water at two points. The cutoffs for the 100 mile race are 12 hours per loop. The 60 mile “fun run” has a cutoff of 40 hours, or 13:20 per loop. To prove you completed each loop, you must find 9 to 11 books (varies) at various points along the course and return a page from each book.

I read a few of the reports of this year’s race held on March 31 and I looked through hundreds of race photos taken by Geoff Baker. Geoff was kind enough to send me a few photos of feet – and legs from Barkleys. Here is Geoff’s contact information. Geoffrey Baker Photography. and a page from his website showing the competitors - ‘Out There’ at the Barkley: Portraits From the Edge of Endurance.

Thanks Geoff. And now, here are a few photos.

Forced To Quit

Forced To Quit

Barkley Feet

Barkley Feet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Lap Legs

Three Lap Legs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The legs tell a story

The legs tell a story