A new study on barefoot running Kenyans has made its rounds through the media over the past few weeks. I first read about it in an article on the Scientific American website. Amby Burfoot then wrote about it over on Runner’s World, and also interviewed the author of the study. Yesterday, Gretchen Reynolds of the New York Times posted an article about the study on the Well Blog. I’ve been thinking about the results of this study quite a bit, and given my interest in the subject, as well my own past research on foot strike,Nike Air Max 90 Femme Fleur thought I’d post my own thoughts as well.
The article is authored by Kevin Hatala of George Washingotn University and colleagues and is titled “Variation in Foot Strike Patterns during Running among Habitually Barefoot Populations.” It was published in the on-line, open source journal PLOS One (you can read the full text here).
The Hatala study certainly is thought provoking, and it raises a number of interesting questions regarding the factors that determine how our foot strikes the ground when we run.
Let’s start by looking at what they did.
The group filmed 38 individuals (19 male,Nike Air Max Command Femme 19 female) from a habitually barefoot tribe in Kenya (the Daasanach) as they ran along a packed sand surface onto a pressure mat. In his interview with Amby Burfoot, Hatala describes the surface as “…a firm sand surface. It has a little Adidas Eqt Support Adv Damesgive, but it’s not at all like a beach sand.” The running trackway was about 15m long. It is not clear to me if any warmup running was conducted. The runners each ran along the trackway 3 times at a self-selected endurance running pace, and 3 times at a sprinting pace.
The group defined foot strike based on the location of pressure recorded by the mat at initial contact:
“A RFS was identified as a trial in which the first data frame included pressure on the heel only. A FFS was identified as a trial in which plantar pressure was exerted only on the forefoot (metatarsal heads) at touchdown. Adidas Superstar Femme Bleu The heel almost always contacted the ground in these cases, but not until later in the stance phase. A MFS was considered to include trials where initial contact occurred at the lateral midfoot (cuboid/base of the 5th metatarsal), and also Adidas Zx Flux Donna those trials where initial contact included both the heel and forefoot.”