I’ve just purchased a pair of Vibram barefoot running shoes (Kavan inspired me).
The idea is that human beings were running for a very long time before Nike got into business and barefoot running can, maybe counterintuitively, reduce the risk of injury.
Biomedical engineers at Harvard have been digging into this question as well.
Other Advantages of Forefoot Striking Barefoot or in Minimal Footwear
- It strengthens the muscles in your foot,especially in the arch. A healthy foot is a strong foot, one that pronates less and is less liable to develop a collapsed arch.
- It may cost less energy to forefoot strike because you use the natural springs in your foot and calf muscles more to store and release energy. Running barefoot or in minimal footwear (usually lighter than traditional running shoes) means that there is less mass to accelerate at the end of the runner’s leg with each stride. Running barefoot has been shown to use about 5% less energy than shod running (Divert et al., 2005; Squadrone and Gallozzi, 2009).
- Barefoot running feels great! Your feet have lots of sensory nerves. And because there is minimal impact forces on landing it can be very comfortable provided you develop calluses on your feet.
The basic idea is that the padding provided by regular running shoes encourages us to run with a “heel strike pattern.” This increase the jarring impact of running.
Barefoot running encourages a mid-foot or forefoot strike. This is what the foot was built to do.
Why does this matter?
One of the most important ingredients of aging revolves around maintaining one’s mobility. Barefoot walking and “barefoot shoes” might play a role in reducing or preventing injuries. Plus there is the coolness factor.
Young Woman wearing air-filled foam pillow running shoes notices older woman walking in barefoot shoes. “Ummm. Your shoes are really weird, why are you wearing those?”
Older woman smiles, “Mileage honey, it’s all about the mileage.”