I just got my copy of the new book “Tread Lightly: Form, Footwear and the Quest for Injury-Free Running,” written by my friends, Pete Larson and Bill Katovsky over at the Natural Running Center. Knowing how much hard work Pete and Bill put into this up to date treatise of running, I was excited to finally see it in print. Among things like running form and nutrition, the book debunks, in a nice systematic way, a number of long-held myths about traditional running shoe design. Pete, the scientist, runner and creator of the most popular blog on running, Runblogger.com, explains a number of findings from my studies on gait and footwear. He also highlights the continued work of my friend and former employee, Jay Dicharry, P.T., who, since I left, now runs the gait laboratory at the University of Virginia, which includes Jay’s now famous Speed Clinic.
The book reviews a number of scientific studies that elucidate the major flaws in traditional athletic shoe design; specifically foam cushioning and technologies that attempt to “control pronation.” In fact, there is an entire chapter, aptly titled “A pronation nation,” explaining how the long-held tradition of attempting to block pronation with arch supports and medial supports in shoes is not only ineffective, but in fact may be detrimental. For example, a study I did (with Jay Dicharry and others) in 2007 showed that even a tiny off-the-shelf arch cushion increases knee joint torque associated with knee osteoarthritis. The chapter supports what I’ve always said: we ALL pronate and for good reason – to protect our joints upward from the foot.
And here’s what the book says about OESH:
Fed up with a market filled with what she feels are poorly designed shoes with foam midsoles that don’t provide the necessary compliance that the body needs, Kerrigan resigned her tenured position as chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Virginia to start a shoe company called OESH with her husband, Robert Kusyk. Together, they had decided that she could have a more positive impact on foot and leg health by developing a new type of footwear rather than by spending her days in the clinic or publishing academic papers. Her first shoes were released in 2011 and possess a midsole comprised of carbon fiber cantilevers instead of foam, with the specific goal of providing a sole that can compress and release in tune with the rise and fall of the mass of the body. Time will tell whether Kerrigan’s decades of research have led to the creation of a shoe that will put a dent in the epidemic of joint injuries that plague so many people today.
Enough already. This is a good book. If you are an experienced or beginning runner, it is a must read… you can buy it here.