You have probably seen the funny looking five-finger running shoes/socks people are running with and wondered what this is all about?
-It is called barefoot running and we believe its here to stay.
A few years ago, we all got told to run in cushion running shoes with bouncy effect, which would make you less tired, feeling lighter, stronger, faster and so on.
But lately the big brands like Nike, Reebok, Adidas and Asics start to market free running, real flex, Adipure and natural running. So what happened to the cushion running hype? Did the big brands got scared of the new trend, as it proved to work?
Well, we decided to take a careful look at it and get you all the questions answered.
The main issues people have with running, is pain in hips and knees. This is due to the fact that when you run, you tend to land on your heel on every step. This landing, then transfer all that impact through your knees and hips, hence this is the main issues with the “normal” running shoe. Please look at this image on NEWTON to understand the barefoot technique in more detail.
Barefoot running does not make you suffer from the same impact, as the technique is different from “normal” running. Barefoot runners want to strike on your mid foot to front foot. This moves the whole body forward and puts none or very little impact on your knees and hips as the impact force is not coming from in front of you, but just below you. Less impact, less pain. Newton running shoes was introduced to develop this technique as seen in image above even though this is not a pure barefoot shoe it uses the same technology.
So why have we then developed the “modern” shoe as we know it when it comes to heel striking and cushion shoes? It seems it all took off at the 70s when feet should be supported and protected for everyday life. The running shoe companies then started to manufacture their own impact protection cushioning with gel, air and different compounds to follow this trend. This was of course a major success with a cushy feeling and most people would just feel good swaying forward in these shoes. Little research and feedback was done on the problems with knees and hips at this point.
Barefoot running has obviously great benefits here and should be considered. We have been long term fans of this technique as it just feels great to run “barefoot” with better contact, greater feeling and no problems with knees, hips or back. The only drawback is that it takes time to get used to, so please take a few advices below.
1, Find a good pair of pure barefoot shoes. We recommend Vibram Five Fingers or similar.
2, Go for a very short run and think about how you stride. Land on the front foot, not only on your toes.
3, Aim to take a smaller stride ,as it minimizes heel impact (increase your stride frequency)
3, You got to start easy and with short distances. Start with 10-20% of your runs with barefoot shoes.
4, Slowly increase your percentage of barefoot-runs and listen to your body.
In the beginning you will have some “get-used-to” muscle pain in your feet and calves. This is normal, as it takes some time to get our feet and legs used to the new way of running. If you feel its hard and need more motivation please read “Born to run” by Christopher McDougall, amazing book!
Worth to note here, is that you can develop a good running technique in more or less any running shoe, but its harder and takes more practise than with barefoot shoes, as these forces you to run correct as there is no heel damping.
Enjoy your runs and see you out there!