Have you seen the athletic shoes that look like gloves?
They started showing up at the gym I go to … then someone in the office wore them when we worked-out together. Part of me thought it was "pretentious", and another part thought it was "silly"; turns out … they are worth trying.
Here's a confession; I'm now of an age where it made sense to judge a workout by how much my feet and ankles swell. The well-cushioned athletic shoes that I have been wearing, do such a good job of masking impact that I wasn't noticing how my running form was hurting my body. Instead, I just thought the damage was simply a result of getting older.
Apparently, I just forgot how to run. A few weeks in those silly looking barefoot running shoes has made a huge difference.
Studies show that barefoot running prevents injury, and can even enhance performance! A professor at Harvard led a research team that looked at the "impact collision force" (when the foot hits the ground) of runners in shoes compared to barefoot runners. The impact was actually reduced by two-thirds by running in bare feet. Basically the difference is in how the foot lands on the ground. Barefoot runners land each step more on the ball, or the middle of the foot, which is more gentle to the foot.
In contrast, runners in traditional athletic shoes tend to land more on the heel. As a result, our thickly-cushioned modern running shoes may actually be causing stress on our joints and feet because we're not landing the way we were meant to do while running.
If you decide to try out this age-old running style, it's best to gradually transition yourself for a few weeks. Listen to the signals from your body. Otherwise, you may feel sore while you get "back on your feet" – and start using muscles you probably forgot you had.
Certainly worth trying.
- Books on Barefoot Running.
- Merrell's Barefoot Running Page.
- Vibram's FiveFinger Running Site.
- Barefoot Running Technique Video.