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Biology Professor's Running Research in New York Times

November 07, 2011

Story by: Laurie Morrissey
College Communications and Marketing

Peter Larson, a Saint Anselm College associate professor of biology, was featured in a New York Times Magazine article on Sunday, Nov. 6, for his research on the biomechanics of running. Larson, an evolutionary biologist, is interested in how your foot strikes the ground when you run and what type of footwear (if any) is best for preventing running injuries. It is a controversial topic among runners, sports medicine practitioners, and physiologists.

Prof. Peter LarsonIn the article, "The Once and Future Way to Run," Christopher MacDougall (author of the bestseller Born to Run) describes Larson's work analyzing foot-strike patterns among the shod, the lightly shod, and the unshod. The professor set up his high-speed camera at the recent New York City Barefoot Run, which is the focus of MacDougall's article. All of the runners were either barefoot or sporting five-toed rubber foot gloves with no cushioning or arch support.

Most serious runners wear expensive, highly cushioned shoes that force them to land on their heels, causing an impact shock that is greater than if they landed on their forefoot or mid-foot. As described in the New York Times article, Larson and others are researching the benefits of running barefoot or in super-light, minimalist shoes. Larson also has analyzed stride mechanics at the 2010 Boston Marathon, with the help of some of his students. His research at the Boston run was featured in the June 2011 issue of Runner's World.

Larson is a marathoner and a running blogger (www.runblogger.com).