Grin and bear it? Researchers find barefoot running and even high heels ‘better for your knees’ than running shoes

As someone plagued with dodgy knees, I’ve always been interested in finding the most comfortable footwear for my running. But forget all the news around breathable fabrics and mouldable soles, as scientists in the U.S may have a better idea (although I’m guessing it’ll only be appropriate for half of the population…)

Researchers from JKM Technologies LLC in Charlottesville, Virginia, observed the running motions of 68 active young adult runners, including 37 women, in treadmill and video studies. The team found that wearing athletic shoes caused excessive strain on hip, knee and ankle joints with 38 per cent more ankle twisting than when running barefoot.

The next big running trend? (Image via China People’s Daily)

“Remarkably, the effect of running shoes on knee joint torques (twisting) during running that the authors observed here is even greater than the effect that was reported earlier of high-heeled shoes during walking,” said study leader D. Casey Kerrigan.

Barefoot shoes have become increasingly popular over the last few years, boosted by the ever-growing appeal of testimonies such as those seen in bestseller “Born to Run” by Christopher McDouggall.

But whilst the study leaders certainly aren’t suggesting that runners should suddenly ditch their athletic shoes for high heels or FiveFingers, they do advocate getting as close to barefoot as possible.

“Reducing joint torques with footwear completely, to that of barefoot running, while providing meaningful footwear functions, especially compliance, should be the goal of new footwear designs,” said Kerrigan.

[Via Yahoo! Shine]

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