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US Army Med Dep J. 2012 Jul-Sep:62-71.

A review of mechanics and injury trends among various running styles.

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University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.



Running related overuse injuries are a significant problem with half of all runners sustaining an injury annually. Many medical providers and coaches question how to advise their running clients to prevent injuries. Alternative running styles with a more anterior footstrike such as barefoot running, POSE running, and Chi running are becoming more popular. Little information, however, has been published comparing the mechanics and injury trends of different running styles.


The original purpose of this paper was to examine evidence concerning the biomechanics and injury trends of different running styles. Little to no injury data separated by running style existed. Therefore, we discuss the biomechanics of different running styles and present biomechanical findings associated with different running injuries.


English language articles published in peer reviewed journals were identified by searching PubMed, CINAHL, and SPORTDiscus databases. Nearly all of the studies identified by the search were observational studies.


A more anterior initial foot contact present in barefoot or other alternative running styles may decrease or eliminate the initial vertical ground reaction peak or "impact transient," possibly reducing knee joint loads and injuries. A more anterior foot strike, however, may increase mechanical work at the ankle and tensile stress within the plantarflexors. Wearing minimal footwear may also increase contact pressure imposed on the metatarsals.


More research is needed to determine which individuals with certain morphological or mechanical gait characteristics may benefit from alternative running styles that incorporate a more anterior initial foot contact with or without shoes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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