Wednesday, August 8, 2012

OMG, Shoes! Minimalist and Barefoot Running

Does anyone remember this video??

I immediately thought of it when I started writing this post, haha. One of my friends recently posted about her running shoe problems on facebook and I wanted to share my thoughts. I've been running since middle school and have gone through a lot of different shoes. I always preferred shoes with less cushion but was told that I needed support in my shoes, the more the better. However, my favorite shoes were always my Nike racing flats. I had my best cross country and track times in those shoes, and they had no support.

I recently read the book Born to Run and it gave me some good insight into what I had already thought; our bodies, including our feet, were made to run. We are long distance runners, that's how we used to catch our prey. We aren't the fastest runners, but we have the most sweat glands and can outlast any other animal because they overheat first. Whether you love to run, hate to run, or think your body isn't made for it, you were made to run.

That means that your feet were made to run, too. Since the 70's, running shoes have been made with more and more support, but injuries have not decreased. Shouldn't all of these really high-tech, super-supportive shoes gotten rid of all of our foot/knee/back problems by now? Instead, when amazing runners from Kenya are discovered and put into shoes by sponsors, they develop running injuries because they've been running barefoot or in sandals their entire lives.

The only real benefit to running shoes versus bare feet is that they protect your foot from sharp things on the ground. The problem with most of today's running shoes is the high instep. This means that the heel is so cushioned that is raises your heel about a half inch to an inch off the ground from your forefoot. This forces you to land on your heel when you run. Try to run barefoot down the sidewalk, do you land on your heel? Of course not! That would really hurt. The point is, that modern running shoes are trying to "correct" your feet, but they are already designed to run.

However, we've been wearing shoes our entire lives so our feet have been weakened. You can't just go out and start running barefoot right away. It can take months or years to transition to completely minimalist shoes. What you can do immediately is fix your running form to run more efficiently and without injury or pain. Start with ditching your high-instep shoes for some more minimalist type like my current favorite, the Brooks PureCadence. Then, practice landing on the ball of your foot when you run and only slightly touching your heel to the ground. Read this page and watch the video for more info.

Finally, you can move to completely minimalist shoes like the Vibram FiveFingers for walking, running, or training. (I have yet to do long runs in the five fingers.) I have the Jaya for everyday walking/commuting, the KSO for water sports and crossfit, and the Speed for crossfit and running. You can tell that I love the FiveFingers. I actually pretty much hate wearing other types of shoes. They feel unnatural and weird at first, but you'll learn to love being (almost) barefoot!

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think?