This will have to go down as an all time classic to show just how intellectually challenged the barefoot running movement is. They fell for this study ‘hook, line and sinker’! This is the study in question here: The Effect of Running Shoes on Lower Extremity Joint Torques.
It has been widely touted on barefoot running websites and on running forums by the barefoot nutters as proof that running shoes are bad and barefoot running is better. I wonder if they realize how big a fool they are making of themselves with this. It is obvious that they did not even read the research.
Let’s look closer. Here is the press release that accompanied the publication of the research: Running shoes may cause damage to knees, hips and ankles touting that running shoes may cause knee osteoarthritis! The media widely reported the press release. Did they even read the publication before carrying the press release? The study was looking at ankle and knee torques running with and without shoes. It was not even a study on osteoarthritis. Makes them look kind of dumb don’t ya think?
Most barefoot running websites and running forums had the fanatics touting the research and making all sorts of nonsensical claims coming from it. Two of them even left out the ‘may’ in the title of the press release to claim that Running shoes cause damage to knees, hips and ankles – does that not show you how intellectually dishonest these people are? Why did they do that for, when the research did not come remotely close to showing that. Talk about being sucked in by what they want to believe. Here are these two websites: Barefoot Running Shoes & Barefoot Running.
The second one has already changed their title in response to it being pointed out how dishonest they were. But we are on to them, as I have the screen shots of both of them here to shame them and expose them for what they are:
Where in the research does it actually show what these headlines claim? Are these people blind or can’t they read?
Have they also not read the research that shows that runners do not even get more osetoarthritis than the general population? If the claims that they are making were true, then why is there not more ostoarthritis in the running population?
Let’s have a closer look at the research and what it means:
They looked at a group of runners running on a treadmill without and with running shoes and comparing torques at at the knee and ankle joints. They showed that the torques were higher when wearing shoes (that’s all they showed – i.e. nothing to do with joint damage or osteoarthritis!)
Problem Number One:
They did this on a treadmill, so the results can only be generalised to a treadmill running population and not running in general! Treadmill running gait is very different to overground running gait – there is no propulsive phase (as the belt moves), the treadmill has some give in it (not like the road); etc. This will affect the results.
Problem Number Two:
They claimed they used a neutral shoe, but they used the Brooks Adrenaline which everyone (except them) seems to know that this is a motion control shoe. The Brooks Adrenaline is a good shoe, but would not have been the most appropriate shoe for a number of them and would have adversely affected the biomechanics in some of them. The choice of running shoe should have been individually prescribed. This will affect the results.
Problem Number Three:
There is a problem with them not applying a calibration factor to the center of pressure co-ordinates between the two conditions, which would affect the quality of the inverse dynamic data analysis (the biomechanists will know what I mean here). This means that you cannot trust the numbers for the study.
Problem Number Four:
None of the runners were habitual barefoot runners. I would assume people who are not barefoot runners start off running very tentatively. This very tentative running would easily account for the lower ankle and knee joint torques when running barefoot in this study. Not only does this affect the results, it probably totally invalidates them!
This is not a study to be sceptical of, it is a study that is totally nonsensical and meaningless that the running barefoot community fell for hook line and sinker because they wanted to believe (just like Fox Mulder on the X-files). Hey guys – its time you stood up and started being more intellectually honest.