Harvard Docs Say: Soft Tread Fights Running Injuries

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Regardless of your foot strike, a softer landing will help prevent running injuriesAs runners, we are always searching for answer as to why we get hurt; a study from the Harvard-affiliated Spaulding National Running Center seems to have found another piece of the puzzle.

To try to figure out what makes runners get hurt, researchers recruited 249 female runners, all of whom were ‘heel-strikers’ (their heels hit the ground before any other part of the foot while in motion.) Participants ran at least 20 miles each week, on a track that could test the strength of their foot strike. They recorded any injuries on a monthly basis over a two year time period.

Of the group of runners, 103 women sustained injuries serious enough to require medical attention; 21 members of the group, however, did not sustain a single injury. After reviewing the data, researchers discovered that the women who had not been injured were also the ones whose feet landed very lightly.

What’s the takeaway message from this review? Lead study author Irene S. Davis explains: “People should really try to listen to their foot strikes and try to make them as soft as possible. Sound is correlated to force, so if you’re hitting really hard it’s going to be loud and that’s a nice way to know when to reduce those impacts.”

Not sure what kind of strike you make during training? Come in for a runner’s analysis with Houston running podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider.
Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.