Have you tried out minimalist running shoes yet? Those are the thin almost barefoot – feeling flexible ones that try to mimic barefoot running as close as possible. Its pundits say it’s the only way to go, and if your feet are as bad as mine you should be listening with ears wide open.
Whats so special about them? Has their effectiveness been proven? Will they go the way of the breathing strips, or will they revolutionize the running shoe industry?
They certainly have a point in that thick, heavy heeled stiff traditional runners can alter the natural style. After a long hiatus from running (about 20 years!) I decided to try again this year. Using REGULAR running shoes I found that if I placed my feet down carefully and flat – instead of heel first, I could run with very little discomfort. Contrast this with the almost constant pain and limping I experienced back in the day. So in this regard the minimalist guys may have a point.
I do have some problems with the claim that barefoot running is the only natural and therefore only smart way to run however. While its true that early humans could run all day long that way, I think they didn’t usually do it on pavement! Regardless of what barefoot runners say there is a vast difference in running on grass verses a hard surface. I have to use extreme caution when running on the road, I usually try to do it on the shoulder to lessen the impact. I also have to use thick padding inserted into the shoe. There are no buts about it in my case.
So for myself the conclusion I’ve reached is that using the proper form is whats critical. This should come as no surprise since ergonomic in any motion is important to prevent injury. I also think that extra padding on the shoe – if its in the right place – can prolongue your running carreer.
Have you tried them? What is your experience?