What A Year! for middle and high school students and teachers

What A Year! explains a biomedical research breakthrough each month of the school year and gives some information about the people behind it. You can learn what’s going on in your scientific back yard, and to dig a lot deeper if you want.

Right now, someone is announcing a new insight or a new discovery that could have a huge impact on all of us. Guaranteed.

The news doesn’t always make it onto TV or newspapers. Even finding it on the Internet is hard sometimes. And then it’s presented for the benefit of other scientists, not students in middle and high school.

The mission of  What A Year! is to bring you great news in biomedical research in a way that you can appreciate and understand.

Each month we’ll put a new story here. What kind? Something that opens a whole new window on human or animal life. Or, something that might, after more research and development, lead to a cure for an illness, or a new way to treat a medical condition.

Check it out.

Fancy Footwear

According to evolutionary biologists, humans have been running for about two million years. For most of this time, running was essential to human survival activities like hunting, warfare, and fleeing danger produced better outcomes at a faster pace. It is only in the last few hundred years that running has become a recreational skill confined to the realms of sport or diet, a trend that has increased in the western world as our daily lifestyles become more sedentary.

Despite this long history of human running, somewhere between one- and three-quarters of all runners will be injured in a given year. For physical therapist and biomechanics expert Dr. Irene Davis, the huge number of running injuries was something of a puzzle. “Running is something the human body has evolved to do over 2 million years,” explains Dr. Davis, “so it didn’t make sense to me why so many recreational runners were sidelined each year.” Over her decades–long career researching running and running injuries, Dr. Davis has come to some surprising conclusions. One key, she says, is what you wear–or don’t wear–on your feet.

Dr. Davis herself runs barefoot, but she cautions that it must be a slow transition from supportive shoes to minimal ones. The stability provided by our supportive shoes actually weakens the muscles that would normally do that job. If you jump right into running with non-supportive shoes or running barefoot, your body may not be ready and this, too, can result in injury. Before running with minimal shoes or barefoot you have to build up appropriate strength in the feet and calf muscles. To learn more, click here.