I already mentioned that I’m kind of fascinated by the whole barefoot running phenomenon… and I’ve mentioned it several times on here. Recently I switched back to running in Brooks Adrenalines, after the whole shin splint issue I decided to try going back to the support shoe. But I’m not in love with the shoes… and after taking a year off from them my black toenails had nearly completely healed, but now they’re starting to get painful and turn colors again. I even went up another half size, so I know my toes aren’t pushed against the top. I have yet to have that magical moment with shoes where you just know they’re right. I’m not sure I believe in that… of course, I’m pretty cynical.
Anyway, back to barefoot running… There are a couple of things I wanted to share with you in regard to the topic. I think that people should definitely do research on their own before blindly jumping into this method. (And if ever there is evidence of my need to over-analyze everything, just note how often I find research on this subject!) Also I do believe that some people actually need the higher stability shoes. And if people have been conditioned to be heel strikers, automatically setting out barefoot isn’t necessarily going to change that, which could generate even more problems. If someone wants to run barefoot, that means making a conscious effort to pay attention to gait and form.
A site at Harvard is devoted to barefoot running. Basically it is all about the biomechanics of barefooting vs. shoe running. It is not a study on the injury prevention/possibility that comes from either practice, but I believe that is on the future and this could be a source to bookmark and reference. One of the people behind the study, Daniel Lieberman, has even got a video on YouTube about his barefoot running research.
The research funding was backed by Vibram Five Fingers so take it how you will. Newton has weighed in on some of this recently too, in an effort to show the world how their shoes can mimic the minimal movement. I have not tried either of these types of shoes because I am hesitant to dish out the money (and Newton’s are REALLY expensive), but I would love to try both types of shoe. If I get my hands on either type, I can guarantee you that I would be posting information on that.
But here’s what I have done: I’ve started running on my treadmill at home barefoot. I run at 5.0 mph and I only go 0.25 mile right now. And I’ve only done it for a few days so far. But in these early trials, I definitely feel lighter and the whole process of running on a treadmill feels easier. I often find myself dragging my feet on the treadmill, but that’s not the case when I’m barefoot. But then, I also don’t think a quarter of a mile is a really accurate comparison to 3 or more miles on the treadmill either. So once again, take that info as you will.
I’ll keep you posted as I play with this concept, I thought it was a hot topic in 2009 but it already seems like the subject is gearing up for a frenzied 2010.