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Barefoot shoes for running, walking, working and exploring

Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan has been investigating overuse sports injuries for the past 11 years as a research associate in the Division of Sports Medicine at the University of British Columbia and now as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Sports injury epidemiology, with a particular interest in biomechanical risk factors and outcome measures, has been the primary focus of Michael’s research.  His Masters thesis investigated the epidemiology of injuries in recreational runners, while his doctorate research took a more focused look at movement differences between runners with and without Achilles tendon injuries.   He has coordinated the successful completion of two clinical trials related to footwear: first, to understand the role of motion control footwear on injury risk in runners, and secondly to investigate footwear’s role in treating plantar fasciitis.  Michael has been a research partner of Nike through the University of British Columbia for the last 11 years providing clinically focused insights on their footwear development.

In additional to his research, Michael has seven years experience as a board certified pedorthist, using custom foot orthoses, footwear prescription and footwear modifications to help address a variety of structural and overuse musculoskeletal injuries.

Michael Ryan is a Science Advisor to the Natural Running Center.

I’ve been running for 10 to 15 years and I think my form is always evolving, and mostly getting better. I think it makes no sense to think that most average recreational runners are running with good form, or a form that can’t be changed. Many of them have a lot to learn about good running form. Twenty years ago, we believed that running form couldn’t easily be changed, and that everyone basically settled into their own best form. But those studies were done with elite runners. It’s likely that those runners did find their best form, because they were training 100 miles a week. They wouldn’t have gotten to that point if they didn’t have good form. But this isn’t true of today’s recreational runners. They might be making lots of mistakes. And studies have been done recently to show that runners can change their form, and that the form changes can moderate the forces of running At the lab here in Madison. Dr. Bryan Heiderscheit has shown that increasing your stride frequency (taking shorter strides) just 5 to 10 percent while maintaining pace can substantially reduce loading forces at the knees and hips. This is similar to what some others are reporting for barefoot and forefoot striding.

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