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Variation in Foot Strike Patterns during Running among Habitually Barefoot Populations

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by NewsBot, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.


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    Variation in Foot Strike Patterns during Running among Habitually Barefoot Populations.
    Citation: Hatala KG, Dingwall HL, Wunderlich RE, Richmond BG
    PLoS ONE 8(1): e52548. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052548 2013
  2. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Press Release:
    GW researchers find variation in foot strike patterns in predominantly barefoot runners
    Findings contradict what is considered the 'typical' running gait of commonly barefoot people
  3. Admin2

    Admin2 Administrator Staff Member

  4. CraigT

    CraigT Well-Known Member

    Hmmm- well that throws a spanner into the argument that no traditional barefoot runners heel strike...
    Don't worry Blaise, I am sure they were 'proprioceptive heel strikers';)
  5. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Really interesting. What blows me away about this whole subject is not the actual running patterns humans use but the fact that at this point in time in the universe, we haven't figured it out yet. Think about it, we have figured out how to make a super computer that fits in the palm of our hand and only costs 5 or 6 hundred dollars, yet we don't know with certainty or general agreement how we are supposed to land on our feet when we run. Wow.

    Dana, who uses both feet and lands on one foot at a time when he runs.
  6. efuller

    efuller MVP

    Feet are different. What works best for one foot won't work best for another foot. I think we can all agree that there is no one best way for all feet in all situations.

  7. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Understood, makes me wonder why someone really smart hasn't collected a comprehensive set of data and applied possibly with the use of a multivariable regression model using multivariable regression polynomials a set of parameters that would be the basis for an accessible predictive model.

    I would think any sort of modeling to help us understand how the foot/body will behave across a continuum of variables would help. Instead, we are still at the point a student and his professor out collecting pressure pad data from a population in Northwest Kenya. It just seems that the science in other disciplines is light years ahead of where where it is in human biomechanics. Think of the abacus vs the super computer, in the field of biomechanics, we are still counting on our toes.

  8. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    IBM is currently building a computer, the most powerful in history, designed to unravel the origin on the universe. It will be able to process more than an exabyte of data every day which is more than twice the data on the internet. More powerful than a million of todays fastest PCs. It will be attached to a huge radio telescope built to see back to the dawn of the universe 13 billion years ago. It sounds like a science fiction movie but it is real. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencet...l-history--hopes-unravel-origin-universe.html

    Someone can't figure out the proper way for humans to run because people are 'different'? C,mon folks, this isn't computer science.

  9. efuller

    efuller MVP

    yes it's more complicated than that. I remember reading a 50's science fiction book where they had robots that could walk but needed a computer the size of a room to create speach. My cell phone talks to me, but we still don't have robots that walk only on 2 feet. Gait is very complex. Not only is it mechanical, it's also behavioral. To some extent how one walks is a choice.

    On the other hand, one can choose to run the way it feels best. So, it is kind of silly for another person to tell someone it is better to do it another way.

  10. To be fair we do have bipedal robots. Basically foot strike pattern comes down to the interaction between the genotype and the environment. However, it should be possible to model the predictors of foot strike position to within the statistical limits of the model built. Within my PhD I focused half of the thesis on genotype-environmental interactions and the other half on predictive modelling, so I have a reasonable understanding of this process. Basically, you need to start with a descriptive qualitative model, then measure the variables within a large population to add in the co-efficients for each of the predictors and to work out the interactions between variables so that you can account for the interactions in the finished model. Even then you will be left with some variance which is unaccounted for within the model and a predictive range within the 95% confidence intervals for the model. So, if you're really interested and wanted to predict foot strike position among runners, the first thing you need to do is list all of the factors you can think of that might influence foot-strike position... then measure these in a large population to build your model. So then when someone comes into your clinic you can measure all of these variables in that patient, plug the answers into the model that was built and predict what their foot-strike pattern will be; depending on the number of variables within the final model this could take minutes or hours. Alternatively, you can look at them running, which will take a couple of minutes. I suppose with a model you might be able to factor in fatigue levels which might give some added value, but really?

    In my opinion, a researchers time would be better spent building models which predict pathology and including foot strike position within the model as an independent variable to see if it adds to the predictive power of the model, rather than building a model with foot strike position as the dependent.
  11. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Eric, I find the whole subject fascinating. Since running has been a life long passion of mine, I have spent an excessive amount of time thinking not only about training, racing, running form, mechanics but also about the only real piece of equipment that running requires, the running shoe. When it comes down to it, the running shoe companies have been trying to develop shoes that either help people run faster/longer, help reduce injuries or both. After 40 years, they have failed fantastically at coming up with anything that makes a difference with efficiency or injury prevention. The only thing I can if them credit for is developing lighter shoes through lighter materials and manufacturing techniques. In spite of this grand failure to come up with anything truly innovative, they have made billions all the same.

    When we look at the barefoot, minimal shoe movement relative to what the shoe companies have failed to produce after all of these years, does it surprise you? To me, it looks like there are a lot of runners out there that have grown tired of all of the running shoe company BS, they have produced nothing of substance and have decided to flip the shoe companies the bird and dispense with the traditional running shoe that has proven ineffective.

    While running this morning, I was thinking that the shoes I was wearing had characteristics far more in common with the shoes I wore in 1972 than anything I wore in the 1980's, 1990's and 2,000's. Since the traditional running shoe with all of it's bells and whistles has done nothing to help me, it certainly doesn't make sense wearing them.

  12. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Simon, my hope is that someday, someone will be able to take this line of thought and come up with some insight into running injury prevention. Why are there people who can run the equivalent of multiple laps around the globe with nothing more than a sore muscle while others can't even run around the block without getting hurt?

  13. See my edit above. To reiterate: In my opinion, a researchers time would be better spent building models which predict pathology and including foot strike position within the model as an independent variable to see if it adds to the predictive power of the model, rather than building a model with foot strike position as the dependent.

    So, you need to list all of the potential predictors for all of the potential running related injuries, measure these in large populations and build models for each of the potential pathologies etc. If we had all the answers to your seemingly simple question Dana, my job would be easy. How many good predictive models do we have and for which pathologies?

    I agree though, more funding and research should be dedicated to predictive model building. The problem these days is that unless there is a funding stream, research doesn't happen. In today's universities Watson and Crick would have been lucky to have even been allowed to get started on their blue sky research.:bang:
  14. blinda

    blinda MVP

    Too bladdy true.
  15. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Simon, you are right. Thinking about the IT and electronics industry, after it got some momentum and became outrageously lucrative, development dollars were and are abundant.

    Just imagine if a running shoe company could actually figure out how to develop a running shoe that really prevented injury. They would make a fortune and some of that fortune could be used to develop shoes even more effective at preventing injuries.

  16. Sicknote

    Sicknote Active Member

    Animals such as cheetah's & patas monkey's (fastest primate) etc would disagree.

    Speed most certainly = fore/balls of the foot.
  17. Yeah, but if you could get ethical approval then you could carry out the research much cheaper than the big organisation. Then the big organisation wouldn't get the money... ever wondered why the big organisations control who can get ethical approval? Feeling cynical tonight.

    Sorry Jessie J, but it is all "about the money", these days.
  18. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Standing back and looking at the barefoot/minimal shoe vs traditional shoe debate, the whole thing is really silly. People are going to develop injury regardless of what they wear or don't wear on their feet. They are going to get hurt regardless of whether they run on their toes, heels or their heads. I can understand those behind the barefoot/minimal thing, they are sick of the line of BS about traditional shoes. The problem is the alternative barefoot or minimal shoe isn't going to do much better.

    For me, I like shoes that allow me to feel the ground. With running, it is all about the relationship between your body and the ground. The running experience is much richer when you actually get feedback from what you are connecting with. Since nothing has been proven with respect to efficiency and injury prevention other than less weight is more efficient, might as well go with less weight and benefit from having a greater sense of what you are stepping on.

  19. blinda

    blinda MVP

    Indeed. They`re alright Jack.....

  20. I don't think the running shoe companies are actively trying to manufacture running shoes which injure their customers, Dana :morning:. The problem is, it's a complicated problem: pick a running related injury (call it: injury a), any one which comes to your mind, then list all of the potential predictors of that injury... then design a shoe to prevent that injury. Pick another injury (call it injury b), does the shoe that you designed to prevent injury a, increase the risk of injury b, in some runners, or all runners? What if, for example, injury a was posterior tibial tendonitis, and injury b was peroneal tendonitis? If certain "foot-types" were predictive of certain injuries, a good approach might be to design a range of shoes suitable for those "foot-types"... wait a minute... That's what we believed and that's what they did!

    However, running shoe design is subject to fashion too and the manufacuters want to sell shoes, first and foremost. Making what's in fashion will help them sell shoes. Look at the "minimalist" designs they have jumped on the boat of recently; do minimalist running shoes reduce or increase injury rates? Rhetorical question.

    I think that just as podiatric biomechanics underwent a paradigm shift around the turn of the millennium, the running shoe industry needs to undergo a similar shift; I believe it is doing so, but needs to be driven by strong scientific evidence, rather than fashion; and strong scientific evidence needs to be drawn from multiple sources without bias. Which takes us back to the original post, if we'd all jumped on the Liebermann data and took it to be fact, without carrying out further research... I guess it was a good job that there were some skeptics around and that not everyones research is sponsored by Vibram, Asics, Nike, Brooks, Saucony, Adidas etc.
  21. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    Simon, really good points! It all just leads me back to what I've known all along, just use a shoe that feels good, does a good job at enhancing the experience for those who actually enjoy running and be done with it.

    You are right about how the minimalist shoe design has boarded the fashion boat. Frankly it makes me want to puke. I also can't stand listening to people talking about minimal shoes or footstrike because they read some article in a running magazine. It's laughable, read the article and then go out and buy this bright green or bright pink running shoe off the shelf because the article said minimal shoes are the "best". You know what they are the best at, making money!


  22. Jonix

    Jonix Active Member

    In bones, is there any difference in the trabecular density and alignment, and muscle insertion sites in predominantly heel strikers vs fore-foot, as evidence of adaptation? Can this be detected in early skeletons?

    Or shod vs barefoot..?

    (Obviously these questions are rhetorical, though with a serious idea behind them!)

    BTW, I note it there is no magnitude attached to the heel strike issue in this study, its just a simple "what bit touches first" observation - though am sure a discussion of this and any possible relevance has been done to death elsewhere on this forum!
  23. Eric:

    Give Honda's Asimo the credit he deserves! Not only can he walk on two feet, but he can also hop on one foot, run on two feet and pour drinks while standing on two feet!!

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2016
  24. A major problem in trying to predict injury in sport, such as distance running, is that there are very large interindividiual variations in human foot and lower extremity structure and tissue load-deformation characteristics. A structural/funtional parameter such as the spatial location of the STJ axis, which most researchers don't even attempt to measure in their running injury studies, will tend to cause quite different stresses to quite different structural components within the foot and lower extremity, for example when one runner has a medially deviated STJ axis and another runner has a laterally deviated STJ axis. Other common structural/functional factors that I see clinically contributing to injury are the passive tensile stiffness of the gastrocnemius-soleus-Achilles tendon complex, dorsiflexion stiffness of the hallux and first ray, medial longitudinal arch height, plantar fat pad thickness, presence of bunion or hammertoe deformities, hamstring muscle stiffness, quadriceps and gluteal stiffness and frontal plane angular deformities of the hips, knees and feet.

    If that isn't enough to make our job more complicated as clinicians that treat mechanically-based pathologies in athletes, when compared to an engineer's job where he/she actually has the ability to take each component of the building/structure out, put it on a materials testing machine (MTM), and determine its load-deformation characteristics, is the simple fact that clinicians can't take the body part out of the athlete's body that is injured, test it, then replace it with a new or improved version of that structure.

    In fact, most clinicians just assume that one person's plantar fascia would behave very similar to another person's plantar fascia when placed on a MTM (if the clinician even knew what a MTM was in the first place). Why would someone want to use a MTM to measure the load-deformation characteristics of the plantar fascia? Answer: to determine if one person's plantar fascia had a different Young's modulus than another person's Young's modulus and to determine their load-deformation characteristics. Even relatively informed clinicians, I believe, assume that the range of interindividual tissue load-deformation characteristics is in the 10-50% range within the human population in most instances.

    I don't think so. One just has to glance at the data from the study by Davis et al on the spring ligament complex (one of the only studies ever done of comparing interindividual variances in pedal ligament load-deformation characteristics) and see the range of Young's modulus for the spring ligament tested on a MTM in eight specimens (Davis WH, Sobel M, DiCarlo EF, et al: Gross, histological, microvascular anatomy and biomechanical testing of the spring ligament complex. Foot Ankle Int. 17:95-102, 1996). What would you guess? Do you think that the range from most stiff to least stiff spring ligament complex is a 25% difference, a 50% difference, or may even a 100% difference between specimens?

    No. The range of Young's modulus between the most stiff and least stiff spring ligament complex in only 8 specimens ranged from 20 N/mm^2 to 3.1 N/mm^2, or in other words, the stiffest spring ligament was 6.4 times more stiff than the least stiff spring ligament or a 640% difference!! That is like saying wood beams are all the same, regardless of whether they are made of oak and pine. That is double the difference in Young's modulus compairng steel to aluminum. Mind boggling!!

    That, my friends, is the black box within the bodies of our patients that we can't see and can't measure which, in turn, creates much of the pathology we see...the extremely wide range of load-deformation characteristics of each individual structural component within the human foot and lower extremity that we have previously and wrongly assumed are all very similar in construction, strength, stiffness, and rupture/fracture strength to the exact same structures within another person's body. These injuries will never be accurately predicted by measuring external body dimensions, by measuring joint kinematics or kinetics, by modeling optimum movements since each of us have such a wide and unique range of morphology and load-bearing capacity to each of the structural components to our foot and lower extremity that unless we know the specific morphology and load-bearing capacities of each the structural components of every individual's foot and lower extremity, we will never be able to accurately predict injury patterns or determine the optimum "injury preventing running style" for every individual.

    This is why practicing with a tissue stress philosophy is, and will remain for generations, the preferred method of treating injured athletes and non-athletes with mechanically-based pathologies of the foot and lower extremity.
  25. CraigT

    CraigT Well-Known Member

    And because distance running is unidirectional it is comparatively easy to study! What about multidirectional sports??
  26. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    With all of that, the shoe companies are keyed in on a couple of things. Something they call "over pronation", "supination" and ground forces. In perspective, all those bells and whistles given marketing labels seem like more of an attempt to sell shoes than to actually fix problems. Even if they were effective, they would be effective fixing only a few of the many potential problems. If you don't have the few motion issues the shoes are targeted at and run on soft surfaces, wearing traditional running shoes would be like using an umbrella on a clear day.

    This all puts the debate over shoe type in perspective.

  27. drsha

    drsha Banned

    I know you are going to hate this but please consider it for a moment.

    What you are really stating and claiming to win this debate with is that there is always going to be variation in any study that takes all feet into consideration as a whole. What we should consider is learning from the dominant factors that do exist, not the red herrings.

    What you need to do is first, as a starting platform is to type feet into subgroups that can then be tested so that we can begin to classify if there is a subgroup strike preference.

    Proving that 100% of any group of feet never display the same characteristics doesn't win any arguments (on either side).

    I theorize that the rigid.rigid group would have a greater forefoot strike than the flexible/flexible, no matter what.

    Summarily, determining the dominant characteristics in a biomechanical grouping is of importance as there will always be those that display recessive characteristics. Staying in this mode thickens the arguments and makes solutions more difficult.
  28. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

  29. Yeah, but these Daasanach habitual barefoot runners had a "proprioceptive" heel strike......right, Blaise??? :rolleyes:

    Thank goodness that scientific research is finally putting an end to all the "barefoot/minimalist is best and heel-striking is bad" noise we have all had to listen to for the past few years.:craig::bang::butcher:
  30. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

  31. Dana Roueche

    Dana Roueche Well-Known Member

    To quote the article:

    "The research simply shows that there appear to be more than one style of running for people who have grown up running without shoes."

    “It is not clear which experimental sample, if either, represents a better ‘model’ for the distances and frequencies of running in early humans,” "the authors noted in their paper."

    “The challenge ahead is to identify the most important factors that influence how barefoot people run and the healthiest style for today’s runners,” "Kevin Richmond, an anthropologist at George Washington and study co-author, said in a prepared statement."
  32. Another article on Hatala et al's study in the New York Times:

    Is There One Right Way to Run?

    Be sure to read the comments after the article. Rodger Kram, PhD and Danny Dreyer (inventor of Chi Running) have both weighed in on this topic.......along with a number of the parishioners from the Church of Barefoot Running, of course.
  33. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

  34. toomoon

    toomoon Well-Known Member

  35. toomoon

    toomoon Well-Known Member

    Kevin.. you do realise that it takes a lot of pedalling on the machines that keep our electricity grid going down here don't you. Granted things are much better now we have got rid of the hamsters but even so, it :empathy:takes 5 days for today's news to get here, so I think I did pretty well..:empathy:
  36. Admin2

    Admin2 Administrator Staff Member

  37. Dan Lieberman: More Scientific Misconduct at Harvard?

    Dan Lieberman's Harvard "Running Barefoot" Website

    Disclaimer listed at bottom of Lieberman's website:

    FUNDING DISCLAIMER: Research presented on this site was funded by Harvard University and, in part, by Vibram USA®.

    Dan, why would we expect you to perform any of your experiments in such a way that would somehow make you lose your funding from Vibram??
  38. drsha

    drsha Banned

    I had the opportunity to have an email dialogue with Dr. Lieberman about 2.5 years ago and he spent a day at my practice in NYC during that time. I found him to be genuine in his desire to be a pure and unbiased researcher. He was not a barefoot zealot IMHO.

    He stated at that time (to my best recollection) that he was trained in biomechanics and in evolutionary and functional anatomy and that he was not a clinician and further that he doesn’t understand the foot completely (as do others I deal with here and elsewhere).

    He agreed with me that one expects to see lots of variation in normal foot form just as in any other biological structure and that some is genetic and some is environmental (an epigenetic mix).

    His opinion was clearly that there is no single biomechanical model to explain how the arch of the foot works, and that the foot functions profoundly differently in walking and running (and in different kinds of running).

    He opined at that time that the podiatry community treats diseases of the foot that were unheard of or extremely rare before modern shoes arrived on the evolutionary path.

    He hypothesized that podiatrists should get involved in preventative medicine by helping people avoid foot problems before they happen. This was the place where I agree strongly with.

    Tissue stress waits for a complaint as one of its four tenets no matter how much I read denials on these pages. This reflects a bias that is opposed to Lieberman's and is no healthier than the bias of the barefoot community.

    He further believed that the best way to do that is to encourage people to strengthen their feet when they are young by running and walking barefoot or in minimal shoes, and he wondered if many problems currently treated with orthotics would be better resolved through strengthening not weakening the foot's muscles another place I can agree with architecturally and mechanically.

    At that time, I found Dr. Lieberman to be presenting his work and findings in a very honest and relatively non biased manner as he stated that more research needed to be done before an opinion can be drawn. He did not have a pro-vibram tone at all.

    This recently published research puts a better perspective on the barefoot community (not Dr. Lieberman’s, necessarily) biased position that orthotics and shoes are “the devil”. This is no different that the biased position here on this thread that “barefootin’ is “the devil.

    There are goods and bad's when it comes to a biological system (hominids) and the many ways that any one individual can choose to function in an engineering sense upon its natal architecture.

    There is important and useful information, theories and research that exists on both sides of this argument, many of which can be better understood and managed by subclassing hominids and their feet into subgroups for study and care, IMHO.

    Summarily, Dan doesn't deserve the Arena bullying and false debating tactics that he is receiving here.

  39. toomoon

    toomoon Well-Known Member

    I read and reread this thread, and I am buggered if I can see where Lieberman is being bullied. He has been mentioned only in Kevin's most recent thread, and that is simply reposting information freely available on the public domain, including from Lieberman's own website.
    I have heard Dan Lieberman present 3 times, on each occasion he would not allow questions. I have also debated him, and have no doubt whatsoever that what he says publicly is not what he believes privately, although I have very recently heard that he may be softening his position.
    I do agree with you however Dennis, as I am sure do many on this arena, that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and the extreme polarization of the argument is not productive.
    No one has the answer and if one person believes they do they are living in a fool's paradise.
    Dan Lieberman has brought some important issues to the table, and he has some absolutely fascinating insights into human evolutionary biology, which I am certainly very interested in (my background is zoology) and from which I have learnt a lot.
    I do however believe he has made great leaps of faith in the interpretation of his data, and if he did not have those 2 incredibly important words after his name.."Harvard Professor", I very much doubt he would have had the 15 minutes of fame he has enjoyed.

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