Have you ever thought about barefoot running?
Enthusiasm for minimalist shoes or barefoot running has grown in recent years because it´s thought to encourage the balls of the feet to hit the pavement first, resulting in fewer injuries.
But a new study presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) suggests that older runners are less likely to adapt their running style, potentially making them more susceptible to injury.
Previous research which focused on elite competitive adolescent runners showed that these athletes changed from a heel strike pattern to a forefoot strike as soon as they switched from large heeled training shoes to either track flats or barefoot running.
The latest study sought to establish whether more experienced runners would exhibit this same quick change in running pattern.
Researchers recruited 26 athletes over the age of 30 who had at least 10 years of running experience. Tests on a treadmill showed that a significant number of these runners (40% of men and 20% of women) maintained a heel-first running pattern even when running without shoes.
These more mature runners may have a much more established gait and may need a longer period of time to accustom to a forefoot strike with a minimalist shoe or barefoot running, the researchers said.
“The inability to adapt the foot strike to the change in shoe type may put these runners at increased risk of injury. Older runners should be cautious when transitioning to a more minimalist type of shoe,” said orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Scott Mullen, lead author of the study.