Well, since this thread has been zombified I'll address a few things, 'cuz why not.
Originally Posted by gladhands
In terms of increasing turnover (sprinting), the forefoot strike is preferable, however it places an inordinate amount of stress on the calf muscles because they have the bear the brunt of the impact and generate more of the rebound force. Prolonged (distance) running with a forefoot strike leads to accelerated muscle fatigue.
Your leg is still absorbing that energy with a heel strike. It's just going into your joints instead. And increased muscle fatigue means that those muscles will strengthen, which will mean that the effect will diminish over time. Just like lifting weights or whatnot- if you use the muscles more, they'll grow and become capable of more.
Originally Posted by Bounder
I will go against my normal inclinations and ask a serious question.
Why were running shoes with a high cushioned heel invented in the first place? There seem to be only two possibilities,
a) An unholy alliance between the Nike and orthopedic surgeons, sort of like Microsoft and Intel,
b) They were trying to make a shoe that mimicked proper running posture.
I pick b) because that is exactly what these shoes do, when you are standing still.
What happens when people run in Earth Shoes, i.e. shoes that have a low heel and a higher cushioned toe/foot ball?
Option b is correct. They originally put the heel on there to help runners get into position for starts by putting them on their toes and forcing their center of mass forward. Radically altering the way we run was not something they intended, and almost certainly not something they would have predicted.