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Running? You’re doing it wrong! Why you should run barefoot and companies like Vibram and their FiveFingers shoes will help you throw away your tennis shoes forever.
Barefooting is the concept of running without shoes on bare feet, or with a minimal sole coverage such as a flat sandal or Vibram FiveFingers shoes.
Can the concept of “barefooting” really make such a big difference in the way you run?
Vibram, an Italian company, thinks so and more research is agreeing with them including a study about “Running Barefoot or in Minimal Footwear” by Daniel Lieberman at Harvard University.
In the study, Lieberman points out the biggest difference in barefoot running vs. running with a tennis shoe is the way your foot strikes the ground when running. With our big-heeled running shoes, most runners use a heel strike first. Their research is instead showing that before the invention or without use of the big-heeled running shoe, humans naturally run with a fore-foot strike which means just under the ball of the foot touched before the rest of the foot.
The use of the fore-foot or mid-foot strike, according to the Harvard University study, transforms all of the vertical momentum of the foot and lower leg approaching the ground into a “rotational momentum” with “essentially no impact transient” instead of the “rapid, high impact transient about 1.5 to as much as 3 times your body weight” associated with every heel strike.
Harvard researcher Madhusudhan Venkadesan further explains, “Imagine a pen dropping vertically…that’s like your heel strike. Your entire leg strikes the ground and comes to a stop…”
Those small impacts can sure add up into a big injury for some runners.
Runners from Kenya have been running barefoot in marathons for years, and now the barefooting trend is tipping into mainstream as well. Many new-to-barefooting runners opt to start with Vibram FiveFingers shoes, which are as close to barefoot as you can get with a commercial running shoe.
The FiveFingers shoes are so different in appearance from the traditional tennis shoe that they often cause people to stare or laugh when they see them for the first time. The shoes separate the wearer’s toes and protect the sole with a special rubber, and subsequently may, as this Wired article states “make you look like you have plastic gorilla feet” or “gecko feet” according to Tim Ferriss.
See for yourself:
Vibram FiveFingers have been spotted at every recent marathon, and even Google co-founder Sergey Brin put on a pair of them at the Web 2.0 conference in fall 2009. Pictures of Brin in the blue camoflauged Five Finger shoes created more buzz than the actual news he shared at the conference.
The Vibram company first released the FiveFingers shoes in 2006 but the company has been specializing in rubber soles since the 1930s, when its founder Vitale Bramani developed the first shoe using a rubber shoe sole for mountain trekking.
Now the company is literally racing ahead to meet demand by the new generation of barefoot runners.
More from “The Barefoot Professor” Daniel Lieberman from Harvard University on barefoot running:
Vibram FiveFingers reviewed by Wired:
More information about barefoot running:
- Vibram FiveFingers -- switching to barefoot running
- FAQs about running barefoot from Harvard University
- Chris McDougall’s Born to Run
- Run Bare
- Should You be Running Barefoot? -- Time Magazine
|Milan, 25. February 2010
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