Researchers have always wanted to know why injuries occur in humans if they are adapted to running long distances, a phenomenon that makes many sportsmen hurt on the tracks or pitch.
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A study conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School and the National Running Center shows that the way runners land on their feet is what causes injury, and that the way the bones on the feet of runners pound on the ground predisposes runners to injuries, according to Harvard Gazette.
Irene Davis, professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation led the researchers who showed that people who land more softly on their feet are less likely to hurt themselves than those who get injured enough to seek medical attention.
Researchers felt more inclined to investigate sports injury because 30-75% of runners get injured every year, prompting researchers to search for explanations – running shoes, muscle stretching, running frequency, body weight, biomechanical misalignment, and imbalance among other factors.
Considering the fact that a 2012 Harvard research explores whether runners sustain injury when they land on the forefoot or on their heels - Daniel Lieberman, the Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences and chair of the Harvard Department of Human Evolutionary Biology led other researchers to determine if landing on the ball of the feet compared to landing on the heel causes pain.
“Landing on the forefoot allows the foot and ankle to absorb some of the landing shock, an impact that today’s running shoes can’t completely erase for those who land on their heels,” Lieberman said.
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About 249 female recreational athletes who ran a minimum of 20 miles per week were recruited for the study. They investigated the participants’ strides by having them run over a force plate that recorded the impact of each step. These were monitored over two years, during which 144 of the participants suffered mild injury from running while 105 did not.