Army Study Shows Footstrike Patterns Don't Affect Running Injuries.

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    May 02, 2014 6:48 AM GMT
    So maybe this refutes the supposed benefits of barefoot running/shoes?
    http://www.runnersworld.com/injury-prevention-recovery/large-us-army-study-foot-strike-doesnt-affect-injury-rate
    Large U.S. Army Study: Foot Strike Doesn't Affect Injury Rate
    The army wanted to see if it could reduce injury rates among soldiers.
    By Amby Burfoot
    Published May 1, 2014

    Important running injury studies are notoriously difficult to conduct. The basic problem is lack of subjects. Most researchers are lucky if they can include a couple dozen runners in their projects. And in general, the smaller the number of subjects, the less meaningful the results.

    The U.S. Army doesn’t have this problem. It not only has multitudes of subjects; it also has powerful motivation to keep those subjects healthy. An injured soldier is a costly, inefficient one.

    That’s why the Army got just as interested in the Born To Run storyline and the forefoot/rearfoot debate as the rest of us. Someone in the top brass issued a command: “Find out if footstrike makes a difference.” The lieutenants responded, “Sir! Yes, sir!”

    Later this month, several of those lieutenants will discuss their results in a “poster” presentation at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. The most important poster is titled “Footstrike Patterns Do Not Influence Running Related Overuse Injuries in U.S. Army Soldiers.” The research looked into past-year injury rates among 1,027 soldiers (including 232 women).

    “There are no large studies evaluating differences in injury profiles between heel strike and non-heel-strike runners,” the poster notes. “Due to high musculoskeletal injury rates in soldiers, a better understanding of the potential relationship between foot strike and injury could be beneficial to the military services.”

    The Army videotaped all 1,027 runners, and found that 83 percent were heel-strikers. This was true for both men and women. The runners were asked about any injuries they incurred in the past 12 months, and two clinical experts divided these into acute and overuse injuries.

    The results showed no significant injury-rate difference between heel-strikers and non-heel-strikers, with 15 to 18 percent of the runners reporting an overuse injury. The rate among women was higher than among men, 27 percent versus 14 percent.

    The Army also measured the performance of all 1,027 subjects. The men could run two miles in about 14:40; the women, about 17:15. The non-heel-strikers were modestly faster than the heel-strikers: by 12 seconds among men, by about 35 seconds among women.
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    May 02, 2014 11:17 AM GMT
    Thank you for this article. I'm freaking out on landing on my toes during HIIT, even going the extend of padding the floor with a yoga mat.
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    May 02, 2014 11:18 AM GMT
    Carrying weight while running (or fast walking) tends to be a big factor in the high musculoskeletal injury rates among soldiers. I'm doubtful as to how well those sorts of weight-bearing running injuries correlate with 'normal' running injuries. In determining whether footstrike makes any difference to injury rates, however, the weight-bearing issue may not matter that much.
  • RunnerMD

    Posts: 157

    May 02, 2014 2:20 PM GMT
    That is pretty against conventional wisdom nowadays. It would be good for someone to do a similar study of a general population.
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    May 02, 2014 2:27 PM GMT
    Ex_Mil8 saidCarrying weight while running (or fast walking) tends to be a big factor in the high musculoskeletal injury rates among soldiers. I'm doubtful as to how well those sorts of weight-bearing running injuries correlate with 'normal' running injuries. In determining whether footstrike makes any difference to injury rates, however, the weight-bearing issue may not matter that much.


    They aren't carrying weight during the study's exercises.

    I am not the slightest bit surprised by the study. My view has always been that the best running form for you will develop naturally as you run more.
  • RunnerMD

    Posts: 157

    May 02, 2014 2:38 PM GMT
    CFL_Oakland said
    I am not the slightest bit surprised by the study. My view has always been that the best running form for you will develop naturally as you run more.


    That's true if a person is listening to their body and paying attention to what is going on. If they are just suffering through on pain medicine, constricting devices and that sort of stuff I'm not so sure...
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    May 02, 2014 3:23 PM GMT
    "The men could run two miles in about 14:40; the women, about 17:15."

    That doesn't strike me as being terribly quick. I could run 2 miles in combat boots and uniform at 13:00 in my mid-30s. In fact, to score a perfect 100 points for that event on my PT test, a male soldier my age had to run under 13:05; 14:40 would have been a mediocre score, even at 36.

    Which leads me to several points, on which the article is silent: soldiers do a lot of running in combat boots, which are very hard on your feet and joints. Nowadays much of the organized daily PT is done in gym gear, including running shoes (though when I joined the Army EVERYTHING was done in full uniform with boots), but I believe the mandatory annual PT test is still done in uniform.

    The idea is that you're being tested for combat stamina, so you wear combat gear, not gym stuff. And soldiers still do formation runs in uniform, and double-time, singing cadence, all that good shit.

    Also, as someone mentioned above, the average soldier does a lot of training, including some running, carrying weapons, backpacks, and other equipment. It isn't just a matter of footstrike, but the unnatural strain a soldier must put on the joints in many situations due to carrying heavy loads. Which have gotten greater in recent years with technology adding new things for soldiers to lug around.

    At 37 I needed knee surgery. I protested to the Army orthopedic doctor that I was too young for such a problem; soldiers older than me didn't have this issue.

    "Well, think of your joints as car tires," he said to me. "Some people get 50,000 miles out of a set of tires. Others, same car and tires, only get 20,000. It's how you drive on them. What you've got there, Major, is a 50,000-thousand mile knee, that's showing bald patches." I had the surgery. Reality was that I'd been wearing myself out, way faster than the average population does.

    So that while footstrike should be studied, I see myriad other reasons why there would be "high musculoskeletal injury rates in soldiers". I'm an example myself, and not limited just to my knees.
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    May 02, 2014 5:40 PM GMT
    CFL_Oakland said
    They aren't carrying weight during the study's exercises.


    No, however, "The runners were asked about any injuries they incurred in the past 12 months, and two clinical experts divided these into acute and overuse injuries."

    I'm just wondering to what extent weight-carrying and other soldiering activities (as mentioned by Art (above)) may have contributed to those soldiers' injuries, thereby possibly skewing the study. Although the study concluded footstrike pattern does not affect injuries in soldiers, that does not necessarily mean it would not affect injuries in 'recreational' runners.
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    May 02, 2014 6:17 PM GMT
    IMHO, it's not really a controlled study when you rely on anecdotal evidence from your soldiers about their injuries. So while interesting, the research does not really prove nor disprove much. Keep also in mind that if you want to make conclusions about barefoot vs regular running shoes from this research, it would be a stretch unless you know the soldiers were wearing barefoot/minimalistic shoes as well.

    More or less how I see it is, soldiers, running in the same style as they normally would (mid or heel strike) to which they are most comfortable, shoes no statistically significant difference in the amount of injuries.

    A good rule of thumb is that if you're getting research away from scientific journals with high impact factors (and especially internet articles) is to take things with a grain of salt. Journalists are not researchers and they tend to sensationalize some things.. The means absolutely do justify the ends when it comes to research.
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    May 02, 2014 8:12 PM GMT
    CFL_Oakland saidI am not the slightest bit surprised by the study. My view has always been that the best running form for you will develop naturally as you run more.

    Exactly.

    I'm also of the opinion that people run too frequently and perhaps too far. I.e., running every other day is probably better in the long term for avoiding overuse injuries. If you feel compelled to do something on the off days do some weight lifting or stationary bicycling.
  • agro

    Posts: 199

    May 03, 2014 12:23 AM GMT
    swolegasm saidIMHO, it's not really a controlled study when you rely on anecdotal evidence from your soldiers about their injuries. So while interesting, the research does not really prove nor disprove much. Keep also in mind that if you want to make conclusions about barefoot vs regular running shoes from this research, it would be a stretch unless you know the soldiers were wearing barefoot/minimalistic shoes as well.

    More or less how I see it is, soldiers, running in the same style as they normally would (mid or heel strike) to which they are most comfortable, shoes no statistically significant difference in the amount of injuries.

    A good rule of thumb is that if you're getting research away from scientific journals with high impact factors (and especially internet articles) is to take things with a grain of salt. Journalists are not researchers and they tend to sensationalize some things.. The means absolutely do justify the ends when it comes to research.


    This, basically. The study sounds a little fishy and incredibly subjective, though I really don't know enough about running physiology to say anything else.
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    May 03, 2014 1:23 AM GMT
    It's an interesting study either way. But I do agree with the guys above, the best running form is the one that feels natural for the individual. No need to feel compelled to run a certain because someone told you so.
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    May 03, 2014 1:29 AM GMT
    Lumpyoatmeal said
    CFL_Oakland saidI am not the slightest bit surprised by the study. My view has always been that the best running form for you will develop naturally as you run more.
    Exactly.
    I'm also of the opinion that people run too frequently and perhaps too far. I.e., running every other day is probably better in the long term for avoiding overuse injuries. If you feel compelled to do something on the off days do some weight lifting or stationary bicycling.

    Here's another article that touches on that.
    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/11/phys-ed-can-running-actually-help-your-knees/
    ...
    Instead, recent evidence suggests that running may actually shield somewhat against arthritis, in part because the knee develops a kind of motion groove. A group of engineers and doctors at Stanford published a study in the February issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery that showed that by moving and loading your knee joint, as you do when walking or running, you “condition” your cartilage to the load. It grows accustomed to those particular movements. You can run for miles, decades, a lifetime, without harming it. But if this exquisite balance is disturbed, usually by an injury, the loading mechanisms shift, the moving parts of the knee are no longer in their accustomed alignment and a “degenerative pathway” seems to open. The cartilage, like an unbalanced tire, wears away. Pain, tissue disintegration and, eventually, arthritis can follow.

    So, the best way to ensure that your knees aren’t hurt by running is not to hurt them in the first place. “The biggest predictor of injury is previous injury,” Tucker says, and one of the best deterrents against a first (or subsequent) knee injury is targeted strength training. “The hip stabilizers, quads, hamstrings and core must all be strong enough. As soon as there is weakness, some other muscle or joint must take over, and that’s when injuries happen.”
    ...
  • FRE0

    Posts: 4862

    May 03, 2014 2:43 AM GMT
    xrichx saidSo maybe this refutes the supposed benefits of barefoot running/shoes?
    http://www.runnersworld.com/injury-prevention-recovery/large-us-army-study-foot-strike-doesnt-affect-injury-rate
    Large U.S. Army Study: Foot Strike Doesn't Affect Injury Rate
    The army wanted to see if it could reduce injury rates among soldiers.
    By Amby Burfoot
    Published May 1, 2014

    Important running injury studies are notoriously difficult to conduct. The basic problem is lack of subjects. Most researchers are lucky if they can include a couple dozen runners in their projects. And in general, the smaller the number of subjects, the less meaningful the results.

    The U.S. Army doesn’t have this problem. It not only has multitudes of subjects; it also has powerful motivation to keep those subjects healthy. An injured soldier is a costly, inefficient one.

    That’s why the Army got just as interested in the Born To Run storyline and the forefoot/rearfoot debate as the rest of us. Someone in the top brass issued a command: “Find out if footstrike makes a difference.” The lieutenants responded, “Sir! Yes, sir!”

    Later this month, several of those lieutenants will discuss their results in a “poster” presentation at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. The most important poster is titled “Footstrike Patterns Do Not Influence Running Related Overuse Injuries in U.S. Army Soldiers.” The research looked into past-year injury rates among 1,027 soldiers (including 232 women).

    “There are no large studies evaluating differences in injury profiles between heel strike and non-heel-strike runners,” the poster notes. “Due to high musculoskeletal injury rates in soldiers, a better understanding of the potential relationship between foot strike and injury could be beneficial to the military services.”

    The Army videotaped all 1,027 runners, and found that 83 percent were heel-strikers. This was true for both men and women. The runners were asked about any injuries they incurred in the past 12 months, and two clinical experts divided these into acute and overuse injuries.

    The results showed no significant injury-rate difference between heel-strikers and non-heel-strikers, with 15 to 18 percent of the runners reporting an overuse injury. The rate among women was higher than among men, 27 percent versus 14 percent.

    The Army also measured the performance of all 1,027 subjects. The men could run two miles in about 14:40; the women, about 17:15. The non-heel-strikers were modestly faster than the heel-strikers: by 12 seconds among men, by about 35 seconds among women.


    I wonder about the fitness of those army guys. Note that "The men could run two miles in about 14:40." That's slower than 7 minutes per mile. When I was 50, I could run 10 miles at a rate of less than 7 minutes per mile and yet I was never fast enough to be competitive.
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    May 03, 2014 4:12 AM GMT
    xrichx said
    Lumpyoatmeal said
    CFL_Oakland said

    Here's another article that touches on that.
    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/11/phys-ed-can-running-actually-help-your-knees/
    ...
    February issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery
    ...

    @xrichx, thanks for sharing that.
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    May 03, 2014 6:25 AM GMT
    swolegasm saidIMHO, it's not really a controlled study when you rely on anecdotal evidence from your soldiers about their injuries. So while interesting, the research does not really prove nor disprove much. Keep also in mind that if you want to make conclusions about barefoot vs regular running shoes from this research, it would be a stretch unless you know the soldiers were wearing barefoot/minimalistic shoes as well.

    More or less how I see it is, soldiers, running in the same style as they normally would (mid or heel strike) to which they are most comfortable, shoes no statistically significant difference in the amount of injuries.

    A good rule of thumb is that if you're getting research away from scientific journals with high impact factors (and especially internet articles) is to take things with a grain of salt. Journalists are not researchers and they tend to sensationalize some things.. The means absolutely do justify the ends when it comes to research.

    It might not be the perfect study or research, but at this point some data is better than zero data. Where are the studies that show that running barefoot, flatfooted, etc. lead to reduced injuries? I've only heard those claims but have never heard of any references to any research or studies that back those claims.