Strike type variation among Tarahumara Indians in minimal sandals versus conventional running shoes
The Tarahumara are a Native American people from northwestern Mexico who are famous for their incredible endurance whilst running minimally shod. Of particular interest is the purported benefits derived from a toe-strike initial contact that is intertwined with running barefoot. The goal of the current study was to investigate differences in various kinematic and kinetic variables amongst both traditional (unshod) and shod Tarahumara runners.
The traditional group exhibited a wide variation at initial contact, with 40% primarily using midfoot strikes, 30% primarily using forefoot strikes, and 30% primarily using rearfoot strikes. In contrast, 75% of the shod group primarily used rearfoot strikes, and 25% primarily used midfoot strikes. Individuals who used forefoot or midfoot strikes landed with significantly more plantar flexed ankles, flexed knees, and flexed hips than runners who used rearfoot strikes. Foot measurements indicate that conventionally shod Tarahumara also have significantly less stiff arches than those wearing minimal shoes.
These findings support the notion that function governs structure regarding foot structure and running mechanics. Further studies are required to investigate whether such differences correlate with a reduction in running-related injuries. > From: Lieberman, J Sports Health Sci (2014) (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to Elsevier B.V.
Visit the summary for more information or click here for the free full text version! If you want to know more about the Tarahumara and primitive barefoot running, watch an interesting TEDtalk by Christopher McDougall here!