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Kangoo Jumps And Barefoot Training Research

Ongoing research has uncovered the need for investigating whether shoes with too much support are starting to have a reverse effect and actually interfering with our natural gait and performance of our feet. Studies of apparatus that mimic the motion of the barefoot in an effort to improve speed, lateral movement and coordination are being conducted in research centers throughout the world.

The theory is that we are losing our natural ability to perform basic function using the human foot. The foot is a complex network of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. In an effort to control and cushion our feet to prevent injury, we have created footwear that has actually masked the natural performance of the foot. Researchers are now working diligently to discover why we now have more skeletal injuries than ever before. Could it be that we have gone too far

The task at hand is how to create footwear that works in tandem with the feet and allows for more natural movement. Arch supports, lateral stability and cushioning that have been provided in most of our workout footwear for many years. We are not all created equal, however and some of us absolutely require correction and support, but the fact is that most of us do not. The prescription of orthotics and arch supports is becoming the norm as a quick fix for pronation, supination and many joint and back issues. In short, a treatment of the symptom rather than the cause. Can the use of such props actually inhibit the performance and create more problems than they cure Current researchers are proving that what we really need is a training tool that will actually condition our feet and start making our feet do the work they are intended to do. The receptors in the feet let the joints know how to perform optimally. If those receptors are masked, what will be the end result? Only time and research will tell.

A recent article in the Canadian Chiropractor Magazine December 2005, entitled Getting Grounded by Going Barefoot discusses the newest research in the importance of training tools for strengthening the performance of the feet. This excerpt is only one of many such articles.

Podiatrists would substantiate that, in some cases, foot structure has been deformed by the long-term effects of wearing fashionable shoes. Additionally, we seem to be losing the ability to perform basic functions such as standing and balancing without the aid of a shoe.

University coaches and trainers have been incorporating barefoot running as a cross-training technique, in order to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the feet, resulting in fewer injuries. Some claim that when training barefoot, athletes can run faster, like the legendary Kenyan runners. Few of us, however, enjoy the luxury of beaches or perfect surfaces on which to train barefoot.

Innovative footwear that mimics barefoot movement is being produced by companies such as Nike (the Free 5.0 Trainer), Masai Barefoot Technology Shoes, and Kangoo Jumps low impact boots.

The ongoing research is proving that barefoot training is in fact creating more speed and less injury in warm-ups and in short distances. The question remains that even with all this research, how could we continue to run distance without the obvious stresses to the human anatomy. The ground forces alone, as many of us have experienced, create all kinds of stresses like shin splints, joint pain, etc. These and many more questions remain unanswered and are yet to be determined through ongoing research in barefoot training.

One tool, however, that seems to fit the bill for all aspects of training are the Kangoo Jumps. These boots are an excellent cross-training tool for distance runners. There are no arch supports in this apparatus, so the feet are encouraged to begin strengthening almost immediately. The natural movement of the foot is not impeded but in fact, encouraged. Use of orthotics inside the Kangoo Jumps is discouraged.

The dynamic of the boot also encourages proper alignment and natural performance of the skeletal structure making it almost impossible to run in bad form. They are excellent for not only enhancing the performance of the feet, but at the same time reducing the ground forces by up to 80%. In a study conducted by Dr. Jack E. Taunton, FACSM at the Exercise Science Laboratory, School of Human Kinetics at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, the Kangoo Jumps were proven to provide an effective means of improving aerobic capacity, and reducing the rate of injury when compared to training with normal running shoes.

Dr. David B. Love, D.C. Santa Cruz Chiropractic and Sports Medicine Clinic, Dr. Love reports: The minimization of impact to the feet, ankles, shins, knees, hips, and spine make Kangoo Jumps the ideal conditioning and rehabilitation exercise for recovering from an extremity or spinal injury of enhancing the overall health of the body and musculoskeletal system.

By Trish Scott,
President, Incrediball Enterprises Ltd., Canada
Certified Personal Trainer 83, A.C.E., CanFitPro, BCRPA
Freelance Writer / Author


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