Those hallmarks of physical fitness die-hards and comfort addicts alike -- running shoes -- apparently aren't all they're cracked up to be.
In a study of healthy young runners published in PM&R: The Journal of Injury, Function and Rehabilitation, researchers found that running in the shoes can put more stress on the knee, hip and ankle joints than running barefoot.
It was even harder on the knees than walking in high heels, they noted. Here's the full study.
Such findings won't surprise many shoeless runners. Roy Wallack recently wrote of running guru Barefoot Ken's decision, some years ago, to ditch his feet's uniform:
"That experiment changed his life, ultimately establishing barefooting as a potential cure for some running injuries, implicating modern cushioned shoes in those injuries, and becoming the impetus for what may be the most counter-intuitive product in the history of sport: the barefoot running shoe." Here's that story. And a review of those barefoot running shoes.
And the findings may have special meaning to many wearers of high heels. Some of the shoes are fairly comfortable (comfortable-ish? tolerable? not downright painful?), but others ...
The researchers point out that there was nothing especially unique about the shoe they used in the study, saying that it was representative of today's generation of running shoes. But they weren't about to say "toss off those high-priced shackles and run free" either.
They wrote: "The use of athletic footwear in running as a means to protect the foot from acute injury and the potentially debilitating effect of switching to barefoot running on foot health excludes such an alternative. The development of new footwear designs that encourage or mimic the natural compliance that normal foot function provides while minimizing knee and hip joint torques is warranted."
You can count on some shoes -- some time fairly soon -- that are marketed to do just that.
-- Tami Dennis
Photo: This photo may appear to be of the start of last year's Los Angeles Marathon. It's actually a small fraction of the market for running shoes.
Credit: Los Angeles Times