Cushy Running Shoes May Be Dangerous

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2009 5:22 PM CDT
Running barefoot may help prevent injuries, studies show.   (Flickr)
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(Newser) – Runners may be safer going barefoot than stuffing their feet into pricey sneakers with thick, synthetic heels, Wired reports. Research shows that the modern jogging shoe, first sold by Nike in the 1970s, hasn't prevented injuries and may even be causing them. Barefoot running—or running with geeky, minimalist footwear like the Vibram Fivefingers—could be much healthier.

At issue is the jogger's stride. In thick-heeled shoes, runners take long strides that shock the heel. Running barefoot, or close to it, runners take shorter strides that allow the arch to absorb the impact. Experts still interpret the data differently, but one Harvard prof says evolution sides with the naked foot: “If a third of runners had gotten injured" in the Paleolithic era, "you can bet that natural selection would have weeded them out."