Barefoot running is no longer considered strange science. Just last week I passed a barefoot runner and instantly pointed out to my husband how exciting it is to see a running purist. It was as if I’d seen a lemur in the wild.
Barefoot running is an intriguing practice and more people are growing curious about it. But most often they want to know if it’s safe for everyone.
There are many proposed benefits of barefoot running, the most prominent being it allows you to feel more connected to the ground, helps you stay more in tune with your body and prevent injuries, and strengthens your feet.
Though no one “invented” barefoot running, there was a surge of interest in the practice in the late 90s and early 2000s as running experts began seeking out running in its purest form.
Around the same time shoe maker Vibram started producing their minimalist running shoes, which have since attracted a small army of loyal barefoot running believers that swear by the brand. New Balance has also partnered with Vibram to produce a minimalist style running shoe without the “glove-like” slots for a runner’s toes. Read Full Post >
Surely you’ve seen it by now. If not, you must watch the 2:30 video put out by Nike and W+K Portland. The short video is a hilarious and romantic running story.
The video is sweeping social media. Runners and non-runners alike are all enjoying the comical video about two lovers running across the country to see each other.
While the couple begin their treks from the opposite sides of the country they begin to sing an adorable and funny song called, “I Would Run To You.” The lovers are played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and skateboarder Theotis Beasley. The video is an ad for the Nike Free Run+ 3 shoes, which our woman wears as she easily heads out for her voyage. Throughout the video the love song gets sillier and sillier as our man can’t handle the pace and becomes ill, even to the point of being scooped up by paramedics. Meanwhile, our Nike Free runner continues effortlessly as she sings and runs with ease.
When deciding where to workout, dedicated runners have a plethora of options. Between barefoot running, trailblazing, asphalt, concrete and the local track, it can be difficult to decide what choice is right for you.
Dr. Charles A. Mutschler, DPM is a medical director and podiatrist at Advanced Footcare of Miami. As an expert in the field, he acknowledges the fact that all types of running surfaces can provide both risks and benefits to the runner.
Running on sand, grass and dirt trails are all very common practices. Although running on these surfaces provides incredible shock absorption and muscle development, the uneven ground can contribute to slips, trips and falls. Runners who are not accustomed to the irregular terrain may find themselves straining and spraining the muscles in their feet and ankles.
I was out running one morning about two years ago. It was a rare morning where I didn’t have music pumping in my ears. As I was approaching a turn, I began to hear an odd rhythm. It almost sounded like duck feet smacking the ground. As I got closer, I saw another runner coming towards me. The sound was coming from her shoes. She was wearing what looked like gloves on her feet as she trekked along. This was the first time I’d ever seen anyone run in the Vibram Fivefinger shoes. Flash forward two years and these shoes and the minimalist movement have grown tremendously popular. However, as with most popular things, it’s not all necessarily a good thing. There’s quite a bit of controversy over these shoes and the proper role they play in the sport of running.
There’s lots of debate over the safety of minimalist running and barefoot running. There are also a lot of grey areas in the subject. While some shoes are minimal in the support they offer, they are not equivalent to a barefoot or even a Vibram. However, all members of the pro party tend to support the general theory that the stronger the foot, the better the runner will run. Vibrams (pronounced “VEE-Brims”) claim that they allow the runner to land on their forefoot which results in optimum balance, improved stability, lighter impact, and increased propulsion. The Vibrams also claim to help correct form problems along with strengthening and stimulating muscles in the feet and lower legs.
So with such positive claims what’s the objection to this product? First Gear running shoe store owner, Gary Gregory, sees the Vibrams as a form of barefoot running and explained why he will not carry the product.
“Barefoot running is too radical of an idea from the norm, it’s too big of a departure and too big of a change for people who have been running in shoes for years.”
Running isn’t easy. At times it hurts. When the pain is more than the typical sore muscles and fatigue, there’s a problem. Thankfully there are answers. More often than not, the problems stem from the runner and not the activity itself.
I’ve had my share of pains through out my running career and thankfully I’ve had the help of a physical therapist to work through them and find their cause.
Like so many other therapists, assistant professor of physical therapy and director of the running clinic at Washington University in St. Louis, Gregory Holtzman, is helping runners overcome the technique problems that may be hurting them. In an article from MSNBC, we learned that Holtzman evaluates and records runners in his clinic to pin-point the issues that they are struggling with. He finds that there are five common issues that runners are diagnosed with in relation to their struggles.