Daoud et al 2012 completed a survey of 52 competitive collegiate middle and long distance runners. They found average distance run per week, history of injury, severity of injury and rate of reinjury. They then completed a biomechanical analysis of the runners to determine if they ran forefoot or rearfoot when striking the ground.
59% used a rearfoot strike as their primary running method while 31% used the forefoot method. 74% of runners had one moderate to severe injury each year of training. The different lay in reinjury rates- rearfoot strikers were twice as likely to reinjure than forefoot strikers during the course of their rehab. This leads to numerous repetitive stress injuries.
This would tend to indicate that the way ground reactive forces are moderated by the forefoot is significantly different from the rearfoot and over years of training would minimize injuries.
Simialrly, Perl et al 2012 tested runners in minimalist foot wear or traditional running shoes on a treadmill at 3.0m/s.
They found that runner’s in minimalist shoes were 2.4-3.3% more efficient in their strides. This might not be much but consider what a 3% difference in energy expenditure represents to a collegiate athlete at a big meet or to a soldier running for cover. In both cases, 3% can literally be the deciding factor. We are not advocating that everyone adopt minimalist footwear and forefoot strikes immediately but consider where running fits into your training and what you can do to improve it.