New scientific studies offer insight into what you wear
Why correct clothing counts and doctors should be prescribing parkrun to patients
They might not be everyone’s go-to fashion item, but it seems lower-leg compression sleeves may improve performance. Scientists at Jena University Hospital put 22 active men on the treadmill at four different speeds and found the sleeves reduced muscle activity and decreased energy cost between 4-16%. The biggest advantage was found at 2.8m/s (about 9min 40sec/ mile pace).
Minimalist ‘barefoot’ sandals have become common in recent years, mimicking the traditional shoes made by the Mexican ultrarunning tribe Tarahumara. However, scientists at Harvard found they could double the stress on your bones versus running barefoot, because the protection they provide encourages you to put more weight on your feet.
Maxing it out
‘Maximal’ running shoes that provide up to around 33mm of stack height in the heel and forefoot have been popular since 2010 – the claim being that they provide more cushioning and reduce injury. However, early-stage research looking at the impacts on female runners’ legs after a 5k time trial suggests they actually may increase loading rate, raising the likelihood of injury.
Loads of devices are now available to assess your wellbeing and activity, but a recent article published by Pioneers in Physiology questions their accuracy. Devices designed to detect sleep, for example, were found by the Center for Health Sciences in California to underestimate deep sleep by about 20 minutes and overestimate REM sleep by 17 minutes.
Scientists recently tested three bodymapping designs and one conventional top on someone running at 12km/h for 40 minutes, followed by 10 minutes resting. They found a bodymapped T-shirt reduced the increase in chest, shoulder and back temperature by 47%, 44% and 55% respectively. Increase in heart rate was reduced by 5.1%.