Ingram 1Duncan IngramSusan LesterAdv. Gram and Comp4th October 2011 Biomechanical Aspects of Modern Running Everyday there is an increasing number of injuries between not only young butveteran runners as well. Endurance running pertains mostly to the runners, but with everymachine it requires specific parts to run it or in this case running shoes to power onesself. Podiatric principles and biomechanical engineering can have a positive impact onthe modern day running shoe. The rapid introduction of new shoe technology is affecting peoples running habitsand their injury rate. Although it does not seem logical at first, “Humans have engaged inendurance running for millions of years, but the modern running shoe was not inventeduntil the 1970s”(Lieberman).Considering that the modern shoe has only been around forforty years there is a possibility that it is not even necessary. Since millions of years ofone technique has served as an efficient supplement to the new standard it should not bemuch of a change from what the human body is used to in order to provide protection andefficiency. It is also interesting to note that “The air not only protects the foot, it controlsits movement”(Belsie).Air is an effective alternative to the rubber soles most shoescontain including the positive benefactor that air is lighter than rubber already giving airthe edge. With air having a competitive advantage over rubber more resourceful uses may
Ingram 2be put into affect to test the adaptability of the resource. In addition air may also be usedin order to stabilize the tendons and ligaments in the ankle that are not easily trained bybeginner runners. This will not only be making a safe alternative to running barefoot andpossibly injuring the ankle, it will also create the stability muscle that the foot needs inorder to become stronger. And so, the way the shoe affects movement can also causemany differentiations with the biomechanical aspects of the body. So it is evident that,“Biomechanical differences include increases in external force loading rate, higher tibialacceleration, flatter foot placement, higher ankle joint stiffness and earlier EMG intensityfor the tibialis anterior”(Nigg).From this biomechanical aspect it can be concurred thatrunning shoes put large amounts of stress and flexion of which the knee and ankles arenot prepared to accept. Making injury not only inevitable but also increasing the rate atwhich it comes to fruition. Wearing these shoes is the primary cause for injuries amongathletes. The body’s response to the running shoe is to increase the speed at which thetibia is required to turnover putting increasingly large amounts of stress on the anklejoint. Undoubtedly the way that our technology is advancing is too rapid of succession inorder for the human body to keep up. With this new things are being developed in orderto remove the risk factor from running and create habitually safer runners. Throughout the history of these new shoes society has only worried about threethings: protection, style, and instant gratification. This has caused humans as a whole tobecome not only weaker but also tender in the foot and ankle region. As Amby Burfootdiscussed with his colleague “We had to run on huge, rounded cobblestones that werecompletely unyielding," Kelley says. "They had no give at all. I remember that I was
Ingram 3afraid of slamming down too hard on them” (Burfoot).Running barefoot is a feat withinitself which requires practice to maintain a pace for an extended period of time. If theextenuating circumstance of running on rough terrain occurs the foot and the personcould encounter several severe issues. Running across cobblestone is very unsettling inthe belief that a heel injury might occur do to lack of protection on the foot. This is whyKelley the woman who was interviewed by Amby Burfoot was growing an anxiety abutthe situation at hand not that the actual running would affect her , but the thought ofbecoming injured do to alack of protection. On the other hand, “In 1960 Ethiopias AbebeBikila, the greatest Olympic marathoner of all time, won the first of his consecutive goldmedals sans shoes in a world record 2:15:17” (Burfoot).He ran barefoot for twomarathons and not only completed them but set a world record barefoot which means thatyou do not need shoes to be efficient or a successful runner. With this suggestion alsocomes unspoken truth as well, this Ethiopian practiced predominantly without shoeswhich could be one of the large contributing factors to his rate of success. Parallels alsoappear when designers, “had to put enough cushioning in their shoes to protect the heel,but not so much that a runners foot would "wobble" and get out of sync with the workingof the knee” (Belsie).When the suggestion was finally made that professional runnerswear shoes during races the next step came along of what to make them out of and oneinitial idea was a foam cushion. The biomechanics suggested that a runner could havesuch a thing as to much support creating a weakness and making the body unstable. Sothe only solution was to find the exact amount of cushion that a normal lower body couldhandle and test it to see if it does as Laurent Belsie suggested and if it contains any
Ingram 4“wobble” at all than it is apparent that there is an excess amount of padding which is notneeded in order “to protect the heel”. For this purpose biomechanics have made it a goalto establish a solid and safe state of protection over a runner’s foot. However, none of thiscould be done without the current advancement of shoe technology. To consider another phase of the issue, podiatrists and biomechanics are bothworking tediously on new technology to create the best possible shoe for people. This isall helping to solve the crisis of injury do to improper form from shoes and poor design.In order to prove, “Their theory:” that “Modern man does spend too much time in shoes,and this weakens many of the foot and leg structures” (Burfoot). This suggests thatconsiderable discoveries have been made from running barefoot that it actually helpsyour body stay strong. These podiatrist also believe that as a whole to much time is spentin the shoe and that going without is not always a bad thing it , but if breaks are not takenfrom shoes it could cause major problems including diseases such as patella femoralsyndrome and falling of the arches. In some respects, “kinematics and kinetic analysesshow that even on hard surfaces, barefoot runners who fore-foot strike generatesmaller collision forces than shod rear-foot strikers” (Lieberman).Engineers have beenmaking many positive moves forward in technology including this one in which they usegraphs and charts to analyze the force output due to gravity on the feet. They aresuggesting that running barefoot and fore foot striking are the best possible ways thatengineers are aware of to help prevent injury and strengthen ligaments and tendons.Since,” This difference results primarily from a more plantar flexed foot at landing andmore ankle compliance during impact, decreasing the effective mass” (Lieberman).
Ingram 5Accordingly the engineers believe that if the foot is plantar flexed it is more likely todecrease the active mass the body has over the ankle. Suggesting that in order to reducethe impact of landing it is required to land on the toes creating an almost spring likepattern to stay efficient while running. Without a doubt engineers and podiatrists arecoming out with new ideas every day all of which they plan on continuing until they havedesigned the perfect shoe. Engineers have been looking forward since the invention of theshoe and have not stopped designing since. Although it does not seem true at first, “I’mnot putting on huaraches, though" says the native woman to Cynthia Gorney about thesandal that all of the men of the village wear. Engineers are looking forward in order todesign new shoe but they are also looking in the past to use its design elements in the 21stcentury. One type of shoe that the engineers neglectfully use all too often is the huarachesof which they base their minimalist running pattern. Interestingly enough, “The Companythat has made the biggest splash with a new cushioning technology is ReebokInternational in Stoughton, Mass” (Burfoot). With new advancement in Reeboktechnology every day the perfect running shoe is becoming ever present in many eyes.They have slowly been making their shoe thinner and thinner giving it the huaraches lookand feel. This new cushioning technology has caused a new boom in the market of whichthey all are designing newer and more innovated ideas such as lighter and more effectivenot to mention much thinner than most and all of this is for the world’s best running shoe.Engineers have migrated a great distance from the early running shoe designs making itbetter in almost every way and it shapes how one runs everyday.The facts seem to indicate that a future in this field is not only optimistic, but vivacious inevery aspect. There are many sensible designs still to be discovered however. This will be
Ingram 6leaving plenty of opportunities for the next chivalrous biomechanical engineer to bringnew ideas to fruition.
Ingram 7 Works CitedBelsie, Laurent. "Running-shoe makers kick the foam habit." Christian Science Monitor 13 May 1997: p14. Print.Burfoot, Amby. "SHOULD YOU BE RUNNING BAREFOOT?" Runners World Aug. 2004: p61-63. Print.Gorney, Cynthia. "A PEOPLE APART." National Geographic Nov. 2008: p78-101. Print.Lieberman, Daniel E. "Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners." Nature 28 Jan. 2010: p531-535. Print.Nigg, Benno. "Biomechanical considerations on barefoot movement and barefoot shoe concepts." http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/ detail?vid=3&hid=127&sid=75f1ff33-589c-476c-965e-ecf0e1a15cec%40sessionmgr113&bda ta=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a9h&AN=45483918. Ed. Department of Kinesiology and University of Calgary. EBSCO Industries, 2009. Web. 9 Sept. 2011. <http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/ detail?vid=3&hid=127&sid=75f1ff33-589c-476c-965e-ecf0e1a15cec%40sessionmgr113&bda ta=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ>.