Sunday, May 30, 2010

Barefoot Running and the NY Times Magazine

The Consumed column in this week's venerable, yet sometimes controversial, New York Times Magazine, focused on the theory that advanced running shoe technology has actually done harm to our feet and the rise in popularity of the Vibram FiveFingers as a sort of backlash and in part due to Christopher McDougall's book "Born to Run." The irony lies in the fact, as journalist Rob Walker points out, that Vibram FiveFingers also relies heavily on technology and research.

The theories behind the two types of shoes are strikingly different however. High tech running shoes, made popular by Nike, are meant to correct our flaws, and protect our feet. The idea behind barefoot and Vibram FiveFingers is that our feet are incredible natural structures and by using high padded shoes we can do ourselves more harm by altering our natural running form and not allowing the 20 muscles in our feet as well as the muscles through our legs and hips to strengthen as they should to keep us free from injury.

As someone who has been dealing with foot injuries for the past 10 months now, on and off, I can say this whole idea of barefoot running, or wearing Vibram FiveFingers, is pretty interesting to me. Several models of running shoes, a walking cast, daily heat and ice treatments as well as ultrasound treatments, taping, and cortisone shots, and being told 'do not walk around barefoot' part of me thinks "why can't this be the answer?" I don't know if it is, and truthfully I don't see myself spending $100 on these when they may make things worse, but I do think it's an interesting alternative. The rise of technology driven and space age running shoes has only been very recent, while people have been running for thousands of years. If nothing else, perhaps by learning to run landing on my forefoot rather than my heel. Maybe that will do the trick?! Just have to figure out exactly how to do that! Maybe I'll try jogging barefoot on the beach while we're Up North!

Have you ever run barefoot or thought about it? Perhaps you're one of the thousands of Vibram FiveFingers Facebook fans who have proclaimed their love for wearing them 'everywhere'?!

I hope you're having a GREAT holiday weekend!
Workout Stats -
2mi elliptical
14mi bike
3x10 cable pull twist
3x10 hammer curl
3x10 bicep curl
3x10 front straight arm raise
3x10 side bends with dumbbells


Myranya said...

Try it, it doesn't have to cost you $100! In fact, I'd strongly recommend to start out running fully bare, and not only on the beach either. Feedback from your soles will help prevent overdoing it at the start, and will help you get your form right.

I've just written a long blog post couple days ago, too long to copy into a comment but check it out: Barefoot running & minimalist shoes Hope this helps, post or tweet some time how you're doing!

misszippy said...

I hear you on being conflicted. I would love to try the whole barefoot thing and have tried to wean myself slowly from orthotics and shoes to simply walking around barefoot. However, I've had so many issues with PF in both feet and every time I try just walking in barefeet, I pay for it. So for now, for me, shoes are it.

Lindsay @ said...

I'm so torn about this. Growing up on the beach, you hear about how bad running on the sand is for your knees and ankles. As a runner with knee problems I would love to give them a try..not sure I'd spend the cash on them though.

Myranya said...

Agreed Lindsay, loose sand is not good to run on! The thing is, you don't have to run barefoot on sand. If you run barefoot correctly, you run very lightly, landing on the forefoot and even on pavement you have less impact than with running shoes & landing on the heel. I have a couple of very small patches of loose sand on my regular round, and it's not my favorite part of the trail. While the landing of course is very soft, it's hard to run and I think it'd be hell on muscles to run a long distance on that. Probably tough on tendons & joints too, not from landing but when the sand is really loose&dry I keep slipping and sliding a bit even when I try to keep my form/paces straight.

Anonymous said...

i have never tried barefoot running but think i would like it....i feel like my feet rebel against the correction shoes make.....happy memorial day!

Tricia said...

Thanks for sharing this, its something I have been interested in as well.

Katie @ said...

I invested in a pair of 5 Fingers last summer, and probably the best advice I can give you is, don't overdo it! My first run in them, I went out and ran 5km, and seriously I could barely move for a week ... and it just so happened to be right close to my wedding day where I had to walk down a flight of stairs!!! Luckily my body unclenched before then :) There's a great article in last month's Men's Health about barefoot running ... I'll try and find it and pass it on to you.

Shannon, Tropical Eats said...

those 5 toed shoes do look pretty funky! I didnt know they were so technologically advanced.. makes me think a lot higher of them that's for sure! I say give em a whirl!

Running barefoot kills my ankles.. especially in sand. :( Be careful when you try it! <3

ALFIE said...

i've run barefoot on the treadmill---but it's SO horrible for my ankles and knees--i try not to make a habit of it!

AM-GoalsfortheWeek! said...

oh, i'm so with you sister on the foot thing. i just recently became 'injured' and it was from my own fault (long story for a sep post). but I do believe ultimately more minimal style shoes are better for baby steps. like .5 miles, then go from there.

I absolutely heart Newton Running shoes. they're the best. hands down in my book.

Robyn said...

I've heard a lot about this recently but I don't think I could do it. I have seen 2 barefoot runners in the park though. There's a good segment about it this month on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel

trainers shoes said...

running with out running shoes
is not good for legs and feet
trainers shoes are best running shoes
I always like to wear trainers shoes

zbsports said...

Great story of barefoot running. Thanks for sharing a very informative post.