If any of you has not read Born to Run, I highly suggest you do. It is a book that combines history with science and overall is a fascinating story of why humans were meant to run barefooted.
Thousands of years ago humans were some of the best long distance runners on the planet. We would outrun our food until it collapsed. This chase could last miles and miles hour after hour, and obviously humans won it in the end. My guess is these marathon runners didn’t have the most supportive shoes ever. I’m also guessing they didn’t get shin splints and knee, hip and back problems.
Last track season went pretty poorly. It wasn’t my shoes’ fault, I had brand new Asics 2170s, but it was they way they made me run. I was a professional heel striker.I didn’t know it until someone had caught a picture of me mid stride. Toes up and leg straight out, all the impact was going straight through my heel and directly into my shins causing all the pain. I did everything from icing, to heating, to massages to Kinesiotape. Ultimately the combination of Kinesiotape and rest worked the best. When I was finally ready to train hard again I went out on a limb and bought the weirdest looking shoes on the market; bright purple Vibram Five fingers. I don’t suggest this for everyone. For one, you have to be very very patient. I walked around my house in them for two weeks before I tried running in them, and even then I only went for a few accelerations on the turf. Secondly, your foot should have a moderately high arch and be relatively neutral compared to overly supinated or pronated. And thirdly, you have to wear them with pride, because you will not go out once without getting a comment on them.
Eventually I made it outside and went on a nice slow 20 minute run. By the end I had blisters on every single ones of my toes, and muscles I didn’t know I had were sore. It felt great. Without the cushion in my heel I was forced to strike with more of the midfoot, which meant I needed to stand up straighter in order for my foot to make a full rotation and not strike too far in front of me.
I also found the shoes wonderful for weight lifting. They bring you closer to the ground and really improve your balance and proper technique. Just for this sole reason I think they are worth having around. They worked amazingly for me, and when the weather warms up I will definitely bring them back out again.
Barefoot running isn’t for everyone, but in the end, it could save you lots of aches and pains and keep you running past your shoe’s expiration date.