Feb 2, 2016
My guest today is Daniel Lieberman, PhD
Dr. Lieberman is Professor and Chair of the Department of
Human Evolutionary Biology, and the Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of
Biological Sciences at Harvard University. He was educated at
Harvard and Cambridge. He studies how and why the human body is the
way it is, and the relevance of human evolution to contemporary
health. His major research foci include the evolution of long
distance walking and running abilities as well as the effects of
shoes on locomotor biomechanics and injury; he also
studies the evolution of the highly unusual human head. His
work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the
National Science Foundation, and many other groups and foundations.
He has ongoing fieldwork projects in Kenya and Mexico. In addition
to over 130 peer-reviewed research articles, he’s published several
books including "The Evolution of the Human Head (Harvard
University Press, 2011), and “The Story of the Human Body”
(Pantheon, 2013). If you’ve read the book “Born to Run”, then
you’re already familiar with his work because that title was
actually the title of a cover in the journal Nature that featured
his research well before the book of the same title; and my
guest is a major figure in the book itself.
In this episode, we explore the evolution of running, the
biomechanics of barefoot running, and what shoe cushioning is and
does for (and to) us. We make the distinction among barefoot,
minimalist, and cushioned shoes and learn about the interesting
effect of barefoot running, and possibly minimalist shoe running,
on normalizing foot arches.
As always, we wrap up with some actionable answers to
fundamental questions in barefoot running when I ask Dr.
- What are the most common misconceptions you see in the running
community with respect to barefoot vs shod running?
- Based on all your research, are their compelling reasons to
consider barefoot or minimalist running from an endurance
- Is there any reason to think that someone running ultra
marathons would perform better or be less injury prone by switching
to barefoot or minimalist running if fully and properly
- Should runners pay attention to their foot strike or should
they just let their bodies do what’s comfortable and allow natural
biomechanical adjustments to develop without conscious input?