He went to Africa to learn how endurance runners ran for more than a million years. Lieberman claims humans evolved to run. His research inspired him to run barefoot through the streets of Boston.
Shod runners strike the ground with about three times the impact of barefoot running, setting themselves up for increasing the risk of stress injuries. The shoe’s big heel design makes it very comfortable to land on your heel. Our technologically advanced shoes encourage bad form.
Back to the original design
I like how science is finally getting smart. Through learning from our ancestors, we are learning less is better. For decades, all the bio-mechanical research we did on running form was wrong. Back in the late 1980s, I did a study on Rolfing and Running with Arizona State University. There were three groups – a control group who received no treatments, a group who had ten massages, and a group who had ten Rolfing sessions.
The first two groups showed no significant improvements in injury recovery or performance improvements. The Rolfing group of runners experienced improvements. What was interesting was the bio-mechanical measures were not significantly different between all the groups. Yet all the running times for the Rolfing groups were better. These runners set new personal records.
Taking the body apart to analyze it gave us pieces; but studying the entire body as one integrated organism as Lieberman did shows us that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Screwing with its parts and not taking in the whole into account can create problems, as the new research about how expensive running shoes create injuries shows us.