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Running Shoes Jog Joints

In a study in the Journal of Injury, Function and Rehabilitation, researchers found that running shoes protected the feet, but at the expense of hips, knees and ankles. Molly Webster reports

Your feet may love running shoes. But what about the rest of your body? New research finds that running shoes actually increase the pressure on ankles, knees and hips—more than high heels can during walking. That’s according to a study in the Journal of Injury, Function and Rehabilitation.

Researchers enlisted 68 injury-free runners who normally logged at least 15 miles a week. The subjects ran at their own pace on a treadmill, first in modern running shoes and then again barefoot. It turns out that running shoes upped the pressure, or torque, on knee joints by 38 percent over bare feet. Hips experienced a pressure increase of 54 percent. Walking in inch-and-a-half high stilettos only worsened knee torque by about 20 percent in previous studies.

Since stressful joint pressure can cause osteoarthritis, should runners start hitting the pavement in bare feet? Probably not. True, some elite marathoners do run sans sneakers. But apparently letting the rubber hit the road is like various spiritual rituals: tough on the body, but good for the sole.

—Molly Webster

[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

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