Experts are now beginning to say: no running shoes for kids because running shoes, especially those with thick cushioning under the heel, effect a child’s running gait.
Why No Running Shoes for Kids
Watch a child run barefoot and you’ll notice they land on their forefoot, not their heel. They also show no over-striding and have a high back kick –similar to that of a sprinter –this is how all humans were designed to run.
Watching a child run is like taking a glimpse into our evolutionary past, as hunters and gathers, as our ancestors had an innate preference to land on the balls of the foot, not the heel, while running barefoot over long distances.
A 2011 study published in the AMAA Journal revealed that observing a child’s running gait provides a clear in-sight into the development of the natural gait of human running.
The authors noted that when a child runs in footwear with supportive and control features, their running form soon becomes impaired, unnatural, and awkward.
- when children first learn to run, they have a natural tendency to run on their forefoot followed by a flat foot pattern; by the age of 4 and running in cushioned, heeled, motion controlled footwear, they have adopted a heel strike running style
Why Forefoot Striking is Preferred
The more children run naturally, without the aid of raised heeled footwear, the better runners they will become with stronger feet in adulthood.
Most East African runners run barefoot until the age of 16 and maintain a forefoot strike as adult runners. This is why most elite East African runners are forefoot strikers, not heel strikers, not to mention, they are the best in the world, and they look smoother, more efficient than heel strikers.
The Take Home Message
Do your children a favor, let them run barefoot, or at least, in minimalist footwear as minimalist footwear discourages heel striking by enhancing foot placement awareness. Children are born knowing how to run properly and safely, don’t take that away from them.
More on the Dangers of Heel Strike Running:
Shin Splints – Find out how heel strike running causes shin splints.
Runners Knee – Find out how running with a heel strike hits the knee hard!
Lower Back Pain – Higher impact forces are exterted on the back in heel strike running than in forefoot running.
Soft Tissue Vibration and Injury – The magnitude of the heel strike transient causes soft tissue compartments to vibrate at frequencies that cause tissue swelling.
BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.