Recently, I’ve become engrossed in the debate in running communities whether or not barefoot running trends are helpful or detrimental for runner’s overall health and performance. From the increased focus on muscle development, gait analysis and even to the idea of convenience and comfort, it’s certainly interesting to research.
The progression seems to be, as follows:
- (Actual) Barefoot running
- Running in unrestricted, yet ‘protected’ footwear, such as the Vibram Five Fingers
- Transitional shoes, such as the Nike Free Run (or the more pricey Newton running shoes)
- “Regular” style cushioned running shoes
Now, since I still consider myself a novice runner, I cannot claim to understand all the mechanics behind the various arguments, but in simplistic terms, I have gathered that regular shoes can cause feet to strike the ground in an ‘unnatural’ way. In direct opposition to walking in heels, we shouldn’t run with the heel hitting first, as that can and does cause injury to the legs, feet and beyond. With more ‘barefoot’ type methods, we can develop more strength in the entire foot by adjusting our gait, pure and simple.
I am intrigued by the prospect, from a long-term fitness stance, but to be perfectly honest, one of the most appealing aspect of the movement is the fact that socks are optional; at least for the Nikes and the Vibrams. I have so many pairs of unmatched or ill-fitting socks, that it seriously can damper my mood when I am out on a run, having to adjust rolling down socks or bunching in the shoe. I like that with the Vibrams, you can stick most models right in the washer – but with my clumsiness, the Nikes may be better for less stubbed-toe incidents.
I plan on visiting a store this weekend to try on the Nikes, but I am not ruling out any other options at this point. What are your thoughts on the subject/do you wear specific shoes for workouts?