Monthly Archives: May 2013

Running Shoes Have Large Carbon Footprint

Researches at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found that the typical running shoe has a carbon footprint that is larger than what would be expected. Most of it arises from the manufacturing process, particularly the great many steps involved in assembling as many as 65 individual components. But what this brief online Runner’s World article didn’t explore is how minimalist running can produce a smaller carbon footprint.    

Runner’s who heel-strike frequently wear out their shoes after 500 miles since by then the impact absorbing midsole loses much of its resiliency even though the rest of the shoe may remain in good condition. Adopting a lighter, bent-knee midfoot landing can greatly extend the useful life of a pair of running shoes since the improved form uses the body’s own spring-like mechanics to manage impact forces. No matter how much carbon is released in the manufacturing process, shoes that are replaced half as often result in a reduction in both carbon emissions and the number of spent shoes going into landfills. If barefoot running is added to a runner’s program, the shoes will last even longer, chronologically.

I would welcome a study that examined the carbon footprints of conventional running shoes compared with minimalist shoes. Generally minimalist shoes appear to have fewer parts. For example each of my Xero Shoes sandals has only two parts—the rubber sole and the lace. (Well actually, three parts, since I have the older style kernmantle laces consisting of a woven outer sheath and a separate inner core). And I expect the sandals to last for at least 2000 miles.

Minimalist running has multiple advantages, and minimal impact on the environment is one of them.

Running Shoes Have Large Carbon Footprint

By Scott Douglas

Research out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a reminder that running isn’t necessarily as ecofriendly a sport as we might think it is.

Published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, the research says that the typical pair of running shoes generates 30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, a carbon footprint equivalent to keeping a 100-watt lightbulb on for one week.    Read More »

How I Lace My Xero Shoes Sandals

When I purchased my Xero Shoes, the standard tying method didn’t work well for me. After some experimenting I came up with a simple tying pattern that featured two laces diverging from the hole between the first and second toes. This seems to hold the rubber sole closer to the bottom of my foot, and I find tying together two lace ends easier and more familiar than tying off a single lace.

Study Looks at Muscle Adaptation of Transition to Minimalist Running

It is often assumed that running in minimalist footwear which provides significantly less support and control than conventional running shoes, will result in stronger feet. An ongoing study at the University of Virginia seeks to quantify changes in muscle tissue in the feet, ankles, and legs in a group of runners transitioning from standard running shoes to minimalist footwear.

The first phase of the study consisted of baseline mapping of the muscles in the runners, who had at that point run only in standard running shoes. The second phase, to begin shortly, will document changes to the muscles (volume and length) as the study subjects transition to minimalist footwear. Both phases utilize static and dynamic MRI technology. Stay tuned for the results.

Study Looks at Muscle Adaptation of Transition to Minimalist Running 

Newswise — For tens of thousands of years, humans ran on bare feet. Then we developed an assortment of specialized shoes, including – particularly since the 1960s – a seemingly limitless variety of running shoes. Despite the perceived advantages of foot protection, some runners in recent years have returned to barefoot running, believing it is a more natural way to run and therefore less injurious to the feet and legs.    Read More »

Chasing Down a Better Way to Run

Like a lot of movements, the case for minimalist or barefoot running seems to be based largely on anecdotes, speculation, and what countless people think makes perfect sense. Fortunately, good research and peer-reviewed studies exist, though at this point there is much catching up to be done. The study of minimalist running is particularly suited to an interdisciplinary approach; principally involving the fields of evolutionary biology, kinesiology, anthropology, and psychology, and including collaboration between research scientists, clinicians, and subjects and patients.

Harvard University is at the forefront in this quest, as Katie Koch explains in this April 2012 piece in the Harvard Gazette.

Chasing Down a Better Way to Run

By Katie Koch

Harvard Provost Alan Garber loves running—so much so that when he returned to his alma mater last year, he listed among the job’s perks a chance to resume his exercise route along the Charles River.

“I love seeing Dunster House as I’m approaching the end of my run,” said Garber, who’ll soon be pounding the pavement with nearly 30,000 others in the Boston Marathon on April 16.

But until recently, Garber described himself as “recidivist runner.” The cause wasn’t a lack of enthusiasm or even of precious time, but an all-too-common phenomenon for regular runners: repeat injury. “I was at the point where injuries were making it questionable whether I’d be able to continue to run,” he said.    Read More »