It looks like we've all been had - running shoes does nothing to strengthen the feet, hence increasing injury rates.
Dr Daniel Lieberman, professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University, has been studying the growing injury crisis in the developed world for some time and has come to a startling conclusion: 'A lot of foot and knee injuries currently plaguing us are caused by people running with shoes that actually make our feet weak, cause us to over-pronate (ankle rotation) and give us knee problems.
'Until 1972, when the modern athletic shoe was invented, people ran in very thin-soled shoes, had strong feet and had a much lower incidence of knee injuries.'
Lieberman also believes that if modern trainers never existed more people would be running. And if more people ran, fewer would be suffering from heart disease, hypertension, blocked arteries, diabetes, and most other deadly ailments of the Western world.
'Humans need aerobic exercise in order to stay healthy,' says Lieberman. 'If there's any magic bullet to make human beings healthy, it's to run.'
And remember the advertisements that tell you all you need when running is just a pair of running shoes? Well, these statements fuel the huge shoe-making industry.
The company's annual turnover is now in excess of $17 billion and it has a major market share in over 160 countries.
Since then, running-shoe companies have had more than 30 years to perfect their designs so, logically, the injury rate must be in freefall by now.
After all, Adidas has come up with a $250 shoe with a microprocessor in the sole that instantly adjusts cushioning for every stride. Asics spent $3 million and eight years (three more years than it took to create the first atomic bomb) to invent the Kinsei, a shoe that boasts 'multi-angled forefoot gel pods', and a 'midfoot thrust enhancer'. Each season brings an expensive new purchase for the average runner.
But at least you know you'll never limp again. Or so the leading companies would have you believe. Despite all their marketing suggestions to the contrary, no manufacturer has ever invented a shoe that is any help at all in injury prevention.
All you really need to run is a good outfit, and no shoes if you can manage it. If not, thin soled canvas shoes will do fine. Not your $200 designer running shoes.
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