The Great Barefoot Running Debate: UKSEM Panel Summary by Ross Tucker from The Science of Sport Blog

I’ve been waiting anxiously for Ross Tucker over at the Science of Sport blog to post his summary of the barefoot running/footwear discussion that took place last week at the UKSEM conference in London. If you aren’t aware of this event, it was a panel discussion that included some of the most eminent figures involved in the ongoing debate about form and footwear.

Ross at Science of Sport describes the panelists as follows:

  • Prof Daniel Howell, an anatomy professor from Liberty (USA), known as the “barefoot professor”
  • Simon Barthold, who formerly worked as a podiatrist but who now works in biomechanics and is Asics global research consultant
  • Prof Benno Nigg, one of the world’s leading biomechanists
  • Dr Mathias Marquard, a clinician and running coach (who would go on to become the voice of reason in many of the more hostile aspects of the debate, as I’ll describe!)
  • Prof Daniel Lieberman, evolutionary biologist from Harvard, who as you may know, recently published the Nature studies looking at how habitually shod and barefoot runners differ, and who wrote a key paper on how humans are adapted (skeletally and physiologically) to run long distances

Quite a lineup!

I’m not going to comment on Ross’ post since I was not at the conference, nor have I heard the audio of the discussion (hoping UKSEM posts it – hint, hint!). Furthermore, I largely share Ross’ viewpoint on barefoot running, which he describes as follows:

“Buy barefoot running as a concept, try it out as a training modality, but keep the receipt so that you can return it if you don’t find the “fit” right for you.  At worst, you’ll discover a new muscle activation pattern, a new and effective training method, and potentially, changes to running form that will help you run better, in shoes”

So, rather than continue to comment on an event that I did not witness, I’ll recommend that you head on over to the Science of Sport blog and read Ross’ summary.

Here’s the direct link: http://www.sportsscientists.com/2011/11/barefoot-running-round-table-discussion.html

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

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