Book Review of “Tread Lightly”
Having followed the blog, Runblogger.com on which Dr. Pete Larson, an evolutionary biology professor and self confessed running shoe addict documents his ongoing search for better running shoes and his investigations into the science of running for some time now I was aware that he was collaborating on a book on this subject; Tread Lightly: Form, Footwear, and the Quest for Injury-Free Running. His collaborator was also well known to me as he is Bill Katovsky, ZeroDrop.com the founder of Tri-Athlete Magazine and a two-time Ironman Hawaii competitor. I therefore bought a copy of the book early after its release date.
The book covers the evolution of human running, running injuries and their causes, the inevitable barefoot running, and the history of running shoe design, including a glimpse at the future and whether the designs actually help prevent running injuries or not. The authors describe everything from the performance characteristics of the 5,000 year old bearskin shoes of Otzi the Iceman to the latest in minimalist and barefoot running shoe designs sharing the latest research on running mechanics and the foot-strike, stride rate, and stride length.
Reviewing the scientific studies that clarify the major flaws in traditional running shoe design; specifically the reliance of cushioning and technologies that attempt to “control pronation.” 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. The chapter supports the premise that in fact all runners pronate and for good reason; that is to protect our joints upward from the foot.
Reading this chapter alone will change the way you take in the information that you receive from staff at your running store and these words themselves are worth the price of the cover cost.
Larson and Katovsky’s “Conclusion” chapter lists their 13 key points. I’ll mention just my three favourites: 1) There is not a single perfect shoe for all runners; and 2) There is no such thing as “perfect” running form and clearly 3) Get a coach! These points summarise our philosophy here at Kinetic Revolution; there is, however, a “best form” for each runner or triathlete and their individual situation.
Tread Lightly: Form, Footwear, and the Quest for Injury-Free Running is well written, readable thoroughly researched and evidence-based; for me it is a must-have book for all looking for an in-depth look into the subject matter.
Described as like Born to Run on steroids this work is eminently suitable for coaches and runners alike who are interested in the truth behind much of what is written today or preached to them today and I commend this work to you.
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