Over the last few months, several people have commented to me that they had been reading a book called Born to Run about the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico. They live in a remote part of the country and are famous for running huge distances, often barefoot or with very basic shoes.
Just a few days ago, an interesting article appeared in the online version of the Daily Telegraph debating the pros and cons of barefoot running and also mentioned that book. The writer contends that "those expensive running shoes you've been relying on may be worse than useless: they could be causing the very injuries they're supposed to prevent ". The basic argument is that most people with modern shoes tend to land on their heel and 'pound the road' whereas people running barefoot adopt a different style of running to protect the feet which results in a softer landing...i.e. no pounding.
The article goes on to say..... "When the Tarahumara aren't barefoot, they wear nothing more cushioned than thin, hard sandals fashioned from discarded tire treads and leather thongs. In place of artificial shock absorption, they rely on an ancient running technique that creates a naturally gentle landing. Unlike the vast majority of modern runners, who come down heavily on their foam-covered heels and roll forward off their toes, the Tarahumara land lightly on their forefeet and bend their knees, as you would if you jumped from a chair. "
Also......."Out here in the non-Tarahumara world, where we have access to the best in sports medicine, training innovations and footwear, up to 90 per cent of all marathoners are injured every year. The Tarahumara, by contrast, remain spry and healthy deep into old age. "
Needless to say, there is an opposing opinion as well. The full article which is a bit long can be found at this LINK.