Freedom for the Feet

I love to run, but for the past several months, I have been in a serious rut of running the same 6 mile loop a few times per week, every week. I have seriously been needing to shake it up.

To that end, I have decided to try “barefoot” running.  A controversial line of research suggests that running in minimalist shoes allows people to assume a stride similar to the way we naturally run barefoot, striking the ground with the ball or middle of the foot rather than with the heel as typical running shoes facilitate.

While some suggest that this strike pattern allows runners to better strengthen the muscles in their feet and lower legs, others assert that barefoot running leaves people more prone to injuries, including stress fractures.  I’m not going to weigh in on the debate of the long-run effects of minimalist shoes, but after one run, I liked that the shoes were much lighter than my standard running shoes.

Because of their light weight and flexibility, minimalist shoes allow for increased freedom of  movement in the joints of the feet.  For those interested in the movement, you can try Vibram FiveFingers (way too weird) or the (super cool-looking) Nike Free.

I purchased my shoes at Fleet Feet, where a friendly clerk advised only running “barefoot” once a week and starting out with no more than one mile at a time. Hopefully this new part of my running routine makes me stronger and faster rather than injured on the couch, but either way I will be out of the rut.

Photo courtesy The Daily Snkr.

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2 Responses to Freedom for the Feet

  1. Peter says:

    I’ve owned Vibram FiveFingers for about two years now, and they’re great. My feet get tired after fewer miles, but then again, there’s increasingly medical consensus that running marathons makes you more likely to get heart attacks: http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2010/3/21/still-not-born-to-run.html

  2. Emily says:

    Interesting . . . maybe the real benefit of these shoes is that they limit mileage to a safe level.

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