'Olympics and running barefoot' mystery still not solved
Washington, July 28 (ANI): Scientists are still stuck on whether running barefoot prevents injuries or increases them.
Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila made history when he earned a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. His speed and agility won him the gold, but it was barefoot running that made him a legend.
When the shoes Bikila was given for the race didn't fit comfortably, he ditched them for his bare feet. After all, that's the way he had trained for the Olympics in his homeland.
Racing shoeless led to success for Bikila, and now, more than 50 years later, runners are continuing to take barefoot strides. Several Olympic runners have followed Bikila and nationally the trend has exploded over the past decade.
There's even a national association dedicated to barefoot running.
"Bikila may have been on to something," Carey Rothschild, an instructor of physical therapy at the University of Central Florida in Orlando who specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, said.
"The research is really not conclusive on whether one approach is better than the other. But what is clear is that it's really a matter of developing a good running form and sticking to it, not suddenly changing it," Rothschild said.
Rothschild reviewed the research and found the injuries happened with or without shoes. So she conducted a survey with the help of the Track Shack in Orlando to get to the bottom of the controversy.
Her findings were striking.
She found that most people said they turned to barefoot running in the hopes of improving performance and reducing injuries. Ironically, those who said they never tried it avoided it for fear it would cause injuries and slow their times.
However, research shows that there are risks to running no matter what someone puts on his or her feet.
Barefoot runners tend to land on their mid or forefoot as opposed to the heel, which good athletic shoes try to cushion.
Some studies suggest that barefoot running causes a higher level of stress fractures on the front part of the foot and increased soreness in the calves, but runners who wear athletic shoes can also suffer everything from knee injuries to hip problems, related to repeated stress from impact forces at the heel.
"There is no perfect recipe," Rothschild said.
The study will be published in the Journal of Strength And Conditioning. (ANI)
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