LONDON (Reuters) Despite the cold and many other potential hazards,
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The 35 year old co founder of the personal training company Barefoot Running UK says she’s lost count of the times people yell "where are your shoes,
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Top scientists from sports physicians to podiatrists to evolutionary biologists are jumping in too,
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At a recent sports science conference in London,
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"It’s a really polarised debate there are what you might call the barefoot evangelicals on one side and the aggressive anti barefoots on the other," says Ross Tucker,
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The current barefoot trend has its roots in the book "Born to Run", by Christopher McDougall. In it, he tells of time spent with Mexico’s Tarahumara tribe who can run huge distances barefoot, often very fast,
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The debate centres on whether running in shoes with cushioned heels and supportive structures changes the way people move so dramatically that it’s more likely to cause injuries.
Proponents of barefoot running say the natural way is more likely to prompt a runner to land on the padded and springy part of the foot,
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In a study published in the scientific journal Nature last year, Daniel Lieberman,
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Lieberman and colleagues from Britain and Kenya studied runners who had always run barefoot, those who had always worn shoes and runners who had abandoned shoes. Barefoot runners also had a springier step and used their calf and foot muscles more efficiently.
Lieberman, who spoke at the conference after an early morning barefoot run along the banks of London’s Thames, is keen to stress that the scientific evidence on whether barefoot running is better in terms of injuries is still very unclear.
"A lot of people are arguing on the basis of passion, anecdote, emotion or financial gain but what’s quite true is there are no good data saying whether it’s better for you or worse for you," he said.
Having said that,
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As has fellow biology professor Daniel Howell, who teaches human anatomy and physiology at Liberty University in the United States.
Howell, dubbed the "Barefoot Professor" by his students after he began living his life 95 percent shoe free, admits he’s an extremist.
He’s spent almost all of the past six years in bare feet,
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"Barefoot is the natural condition. It’s the most natural way to be," he told the conference. "Walking and running are extremely complicated from a biomechanical perspective . and if you add a device to your foot, it alters it."
"When you put on a device,
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While it’s true that almost all modern athletes use running shoes in international sporting competitions,
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Back in 1960 Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila, one of the world’s greatest Olympic marathon runners, won the first of his consecutive gold medals without shoes, covering the 26.2 miles in 2 hours,
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