Wow. In this remarkable interview , one of America’s top distance-running minds is suggesting that cushioned shoes are the cause of running injuries, not the cure. There’s no competing with Alberto Salazar’s credentials: he’s a former U.S. Olympian, a three-time New York City Marathon Champ and winner of both Boston andSouth’s Africa’s fabled 54-mile Comrades. Salazar is now head of Nike elite project, and the No. 1 problem he faces is keeping his aces healthy. Some 85% of all runners who use running shoes land on their heels, a style of running that’s impossible without cushioning, while 100% of barefoot runners land on their mid-to-forefoot. Eliminate the conditioned shoe, and you eliminate heel strike. So: should you just “run the way you run” and hope engineered shoes will compensate for sloppiness — or is natural, gentle, barefoot-style running the way to go?
In Salazar’s mind, there’s no debate at all:
There has to be one best way of running. It’s got to be like a law of physics. And if you deviate too much from that–the way I did in my career–it can be a big handicap. Dathan can’t be a heel striker and expect to run as good as the best forefoot runners. You can be efficient for a while with bad form–maybe with a low shuffle stride – but eventually that’s not good for your body. It’s going to produce tightness and muscular imbalances and structural problems. Then you get injuries, and if you’re not careful – if you don’t take care of the muscular and structural issues – the injuries can put you into a downward spiral.
For years, we’ve been told that everyone has their own, unique gait that could only be corrected by some kind of shoe. Now, Salazar is blowing that up:
You show me someone with bad form, and I’ll show you someone who’s going to have a lot of injuries and a short career.