A New Form Is All You Need To Avoid Running Injuries

A New Form Is All You Need To Avoid Running Injuries

Modern society has seemingly decided that barefoot runners, including runners that don the weird/gross-looking Vibram FiveFingers shoes, may know the secret to injury-free running, but nobody will listen to them because they’re such extremists. But the injury statistics show that out of all current runners, 79 per cent of them are injured every year. That’s insane. We’re obviously doing something wrong.This New York Times Magazine article has discovered a secret: It’s not really whether or not you run barefoot or with the latest Nikes that prevent injury, it’s the form you use when you run. The writer, Christopher McDougall, goes into a lot of running history, but it boils down to a technique invented in the 1800s called 100-Up that stresses — among other points — no heel landings and always using the balls of your feet. Just by using this method, even arthritic old men who couldn’t run before can now go long distances painfully and injury-free.

The image above shows the various steps to executing this the 100-Up, but the video on the NYT page shows it in motion. (I’m still trying to wrap my mind around why Peter Sarsgaard is inexplicably in the video though.)

Of course, they suggest that doing this barefoot will decrease your injury rate, and they point to various shoes that actually harm, rather than help your stride, by overcorrecting. If you’re a runner, you should definitely hop over and see what the article has to say about the 100-Up form and running shoes. I’ve given up running because of knee problems, but I might just take it up again using this method.

The Once and Future Way to Run [New York Times Magazine]


  • hmm….I do know that barefoot running is the best form of running. I have started running recently, when I first started I was experiencing almost severe soreness in my calf muscles and some knee issues, but after I changed my jogging technique a little (reduced running speed, and pushing off slightly differently on the balls of my feet) reduced the amount of stress and strain on my legs so much, that I was able to start running further and recovered quicker after each run.

  • I remember going into Athletes Foot to get some running shoes and being told that I tend to land on the balls of my feet instead of the heels and that was wrong.
    Shows what they know.

    • There was a show on PayTV recently about the Indian natives in a small Andes area that ran on the balls of their feet for hundreds of k’s. They either ran bare foot, or used tyre tread thongs. Apparently we as a species always used to run that way, but when we started wearing shoes all that changed. I can’t run barefoot though, it hurts too bloody much, but I do try to run ball of the foot first though, and it’s hard to master too. Oh by the way how did you get your avatar up on your comment? 🙂

  • Get yourself a pair of Merrell Trail gloves. I used to get shin splints all the time, with regular running shoes (and I tried lots of different ones). Barefoot running takes a bit to get used to, you calves will KILL at first, but once you get past that it’s awesome.

  • When Im on tread mill at the gym Im wearing my Five Fingers and running correctly.
    I watch all the other runners around me and theyre all running incorrectly. Some of them, the mucho He-Man types, you can hear them pounding their feet into the tread mill. Makes me cringe thinking what they are doing to themselves.

    Also, every month at my gym they have a foot specialist do free assessments of your feet. He films you running, watches your stance and impact and gives you suggestions and what not.
    So I did my assessment with my Vibrams on and for one he hadnt seen my shoes before, nor had he heard about bare foot running. All he kept telling me was I was running incorrectly and was going to do some serious damage.
    I told him he needs to do some research.

  • Oh, and when you start running bare foot, the first couple of times your calves will be screaming in pain because shod running doesnt actually use your calves. Heel striking stops your calves from doing their job of shock absorption.
    Every time you strike with your heel when running, twice your body weight is being slammed down through your knee and heel, every step.

    If you run barefoot thee is no striking impact.

    Also, you can not run on the balls of your feet wearing regular runners. The shape of the shoe and thickness of the soul prevents you from correct technique.
    You actually need to be bare foot to be able to run bare foot properly.

    • No, you can run with a forefoot strike in normal runners, I do it all the time. A lightweight pair of “neutral” shoes (ie no correction for over or under pronation) helps a lot. Barefoot running or running in barefoot style shoes gives you a lot more leeway in using your calves for shock absorption and is the better option, but someone transitioning to the style might find it easier to try it in normal shoes.

      • What about those of us who need orthotics to stabilise our feet due to pronation? Barefoot doesn’t work so well when your foot collapses in, causing your lower leg to rotate, and hence putting pressure on your ITB causing great amounts of pain…
        Or at least, that’s the explanation my physio and podiatrist gave me when I was out for 12 Weeks…

  • And lastly. . .
    Ive seen a number of UFC fighters wearing Vibrams in training and when they walk to the ring.
    Off the top of my head Ive seen Clay Guida and Cain Velasquez wearing and training in them.

  • Yep, all animals walk, run, creep etc on the balls of their feet. None whack down on their heels. Shoes give you that ability though and I suppose heel landings make it easier to avoid tripping…?
    I may have to try this… obviously all it does is utilise the vertical rotation of the ankle joint as a shock absorber along with the knee.

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