While the jury may still be out on the benefits and risks of barefoot running shoes, it will never meet to hear the case against Vibram USA.
The company, which makes FiveFingers running shoes, has agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging Vibram made false and unsubstantiated claims regarding the health benefits of its products. Though they settled the case, according to court documents, “Vibram expressly denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing alleged in the Actions, and neither admits nor concedes any actual or potential fault, wrongdoing or liability.”
One of the first pieces of advice I give any new runner is in regards to shoes. I tell anyone who’s just starting out to go to a running specific store and to get fitted for a proper running shoe.
Many assume the name brand they got off the shelf at a major sports store is sufficient, but they are not. A properly fitted shoe can make or break a running career. One of the leading causes of running injury is due to improper footwear. Most runners accept this truth about shoes early on. However, one thing we don’t do is focus on the proper footwear when we’re not running.
I fall into the category of wearing expensive shoes while I run, yet I walk around in flimsy flip flops the rest of the day. Many office professionals spend the majority of their day in dress shoes. They look great, but may be the root cause of your next running injury- especially high heels.Of all the flawed footwear, high heels may be the most risky choice for a runner. Research points to the fact that runners who wear high heels may be at greater risk for foot, knee, or back injury.
High heels are honestly not a great shoe for anyone. They are the number on cause of ingrown toenails, they can lead to lower back pain, hip soreness, osteoarthritis, hammertoes, plantar fasciitis, dislocated toes, calluses, joint pain, bunions, and sprained ankles.
When a runner puts on their heels, she’s more likely to experience these problems and then some, as her feet are going through additional strain.
I recently started training for a half-marathon, and in preparation to do so, I asked a friend to watch me run and critique my form. My friend, who has been running for more than 10 years, told me there were a few flaws in my technique and recommended that I look into what a proper form should be.
So far, I’ve gathered that I need to stand up straighter while running, hold my shoulders back and down, and take the proper length strides. But what else can a runner do to improve their stride?
Don’t land on your heels. Making your first contact with the ground with your heels is great for power walking, but when you are running, it can cause pain in your back or knees. “When you walk, you keep one foot in contact with the ground, while running has a moment of weightlessness in the stride,” said running coach Alex Figuerosa. Instead, you should try to land on your midsole or forefoot, which allows your muscles to absorb more of the shock from your landing.
Brad is a USA Track and Field certified coach who specializes in teaching first timers how to run. You can find his free running program, as well as articles on health and fitness at his website, www.bradgansberg.com.
New runners have so much to learn. When I started back in 2004, I made every mistake in the book. I had no idea what I was doing so the process of learning to run was much harder than it needed to be.
Over the years, I have learned many things that would have been helpful to understand when I was first getting started. While I cannot turn back time and help my 2004 self, perhaps I can offer you a few ideas to help smooth the path as you first learn how to run.
1. Buy new sneakers.
Running sneakers have a limited life. Don’t even think about using the old pair in your closet. Go to a running store, ask their advice, and buy what they suggest. You have no idea how important it is to have a new pair of running sneakers that are properly fit to your foot and running style. Using an old pair is just asking to hurt.
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.