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Foot strike patterns and collision forces



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doi 10 1038 nature08723 LETTERS Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners Daniel E Lieberman1 Madhusudhan Venkadesan1 2 William A Werbel3 Adam I Daoud1 Susan D Andrea4 Irene S Davis5 Robert Ojiambo Mang Eni6 7 Yannis Pitsiladis6 7 Humans have engaged in endurance running for millions of years1 but the modern running shoe was not invented until the 1970s For most of human evolutionary history runners were either barefoot or wore minimal footwear such as sandals or moccasins with smaller heels and little cushioning relative to modern running shoes We wondered how runners coped with the impact caused by the foot colliding with the ground before the invention of the modern shoe Here we show that habitually barefoot endurance runners often land on the fore foot fore foot strike before bringing down the heel but they sometimes land with a flat foot mid foot strike or less often on the heel rear foot strike In contrast habitually shod runners mostly rear foot strike facilitated by the elevated and cushioned heel of the modern running shoe Kinematic and kinetic analyses show that even on hard surfaces barefoot runners who fore foot strike generate smaller collision forces than shod rear foot strikers This difference results primarily from a more plantarflexed foot at landing and more ankle compliance during impact decreasing the effective mass of the body that collides with the ground Fore foot and mid foot strike gaits were probably more common when humans ran barefoot or in minimal shoes and may protect the feet and lower limbs from some of the impactrelated injuries now experienced by a high percentage of runners Running can be most injurious at the moment the foot collides with the ground This collision can occur in three ways a rear foot strike RFS in which the heel lands first a mid foot strike MFS in which the heel and ball of the foot land simultaneously and a forefoot strike FFS in which the ball of the foot lands before



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