How do spiked shoes make runners faster? It’s obviously counterintuitive but I would have thought extra grip would slow you down.

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How do spiked shoes make runners faster? It’s obviously counterintuitive but I would have thought extra grip would slow you down.

In: Physics

Spiked shoes provide more traction for running on specific surfaces.
The pressure from the foot pushing down and back could cause the shoe to slip over the ground instead of propelling the runner forward.
The friction that helps maintain traction creates only a small amount of friction when the runner lifts their foot.

I’m sorry, you’re going to have to explain your thinking to me.

How do you think that having extra grip, meaning more energy is transferred to locomotion rather than slipping on a surface, is counter intuitive?

I’m not trying to be facetious, just curious to your thinking.

Friction is what allows you to push yourself forward without slipping. The more friction you have, the harder you can push.

When you run, your feet are pushing backwards while your body is moving forwards. The more your feet are able to push backwards, the more easily you’re able to run forwards. If your feet *slip* backwards, then you don’t move forwards.

Think of walking on ice vs. walking on a sidewalk – you’re able to move forward more easily on a sidewalk because you’re not slipping backwards on each step. Adding spikes continues to help you move forwards more (as long as you’re running on a surface that the spikes are able to both easily dig in to and easily release from).

Friction is only bad when you’re sliding, like skiing. Generally when you are running, you’re trying to minimize sliding. For example, think how hard it would be to run on ice, or any other slippery surface.


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