Barefoot and Minimalist Running–Really?

Komodo Sport-M3648-heroIt has been some time since I first saw someone running barefoot.  At first it was a shock since this person was running through our neighborhood on the roads, and crazily enough – in the dark!  When I first saw him I had read a little bit here and there, but really never thought too much about it.  I thought of barefoot or any type of minimalist running as something that only a special breed of runners did, runners that were both much more dedicated, and honestly a bit crazy.

 

I honestly have to say that I never thought I would be saying this but I have been getting more an more intrigued  over the past few months.  I am not sure I am ready to scuff the bottom of my feet up by heading out on the road sans shoes, but I may be ready to dip my big toe in so to speak and see how the water is.

 

barefoot-runningWhile barefoot running seems to be all the rage, there’s not a lack of minimalist shoes out there from countless manufactures, all with varying degrees of minimalism.  Even before seeing my first barefoot runner, I saw some people both running in and just wearing the Vibram FiveFingers.  They were both cool looking and somewhat mysterious.  I have wanted to try a pair, but have not had the courage (or the money) to give them a run…. or even a walk.

 

I hadn’t done much research about Vibram FiveFingers so I was really under-educated about them.  What I did know was from what someone who was wearing them was telling me.  I was recently contacted by a PR firm talking about the new line they were coming out with for the spring, and I was inquisitive to say the least.

 

They had the very cool looking Komodo Sport that was designed for the more athletic person.  They were designed for the most active fitness enthusiasts with a seamless insole to reduce friction and improve comfort – sounds like the right pair for a runner since we are all rugged and need a tough shoe right? :)

 

BikilaHero_M343One of the other pairs they were releasing were a bit more reserved in their coloring and design.  The Bikila LS are just like their predecessor in that they are designed for a more natural and healthier foot strike.  I have heard a lot about foot strike lately, and I know this minimalist movement has been a big player in getting people to look more into how they are treating their priceless commodities – their feet.

 

So what is a runner to do?  With so many new things being talked about and so many conflicting views, is it safer to keep doing what we are comfortable with or should we venture off into the new territory and see what all the hype is about?

 

I don’t remember where I got the clip from, but it is a good listen.  It is a quick interview the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Barefoot Running, Thomas Hollowell and really gives a good quick view on barefoot and minimalist running.  I was supposed to be getting a copy of this book and I am still hoping it shows up soon :) 

 

mp3 download

 

What are your thoughts?  I know I have plenty of different viewpoints represented who are loyal readers, why don’t you try to convince me and our readers why it is good, or not good to pursue or not pursue minimalist or barefoot running?

 

9 comments:

  1. I started running barefoot a year ago as I was broken and despondent.

    Since then it's been joy.

    5 10k races
    5 5k races
    3 half marathons
    1 31km virtual race.

    No injuries. Met so many people because of barefoot.

    Changed my life!

    I the most fun I ever have! Best part is, I have the confidence in my feet, so they I can run in anything, minimal shoes, bare, watershoes. I have no dependency on any particular shoe brand or style, it's just running!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I started running barefoot a year ago as I was broken and despondent.

    Since then it's been joy.

    5 10k races
    5 5k races
    3 half marathons
    1 31km virtual race.

    No injuries. Met so many people because of barefoot.

    Changed my life!

    I the most fun I ever have! Best part is, I have the confidence in my feet, so they I can run in anything, minimal shoes, bare, watershoes. I have no dependency on any particular shoe brand or style, it's just running!

    ReplyDelete
  3. LAUREN MIERTSCHINMay 14, 2011, 2:34:00 AM

    My thoughts are that I can't possibly do minimalist running  because I have neuromas.  that is, my bone is rubbing against nerves in my forefoot. (I had surgery in my left foot but am adamantly againstly more surgery in my right foot) I love it when I see barefoot runners.  I hold nothing against then.  But I have to adapt to the mid-foot strike. The minimalist footwear you posted looks very cool.  Maybe someday, but not now.  i will howwever try those minimalist shoes that don't have that big padding in the heel, because I pretty much don't do a heal strike at all.   I'm a midfoot striker.  Thanks for the post. 

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  4. I had a friend decide to try minimalist running due to joint issues...she ended up really hurting her feet (her podiatrist said that  they had seen a lot of feet issues because of minimalist shoes). So I would recommend really listening to your body as you give it a try...basic achiness ok, you start feeling pain, have it looked at before you end up hurt too badly.

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  5. Thanks for sharing Neil!  It has obviously changed your life. 

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  6. Lauren, thanks for giving your thoughts.  I am sorry for your neuromas, I hope you can get beyond that injury but it sounds like you have a great attitude even in the midst of it.  Thanks! 

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  7.  Christine - I think you make a good point, and I have heard some of the same things.  I think for most people though, the injuries are brought on by not moving slowly into minimalist shoe, or barefoot running.  I don't know about your friends situation so I am not commenting on that, but rather a broad brush statement.


    Barefoot running, minimalist shoes, or normal shoes - we have to listen to our body and take it slow.  Moving too fast at anything can cause issues..... I know first hand :(
    Thanks for the comment!

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  8.  I'll continue to take the stance of different things work for different people with everything with running, including wearing shoes, going minimal or going barefoot. People will throw out research and this and that, but I don't think there's enough research yet to prove anything on either side of the "argument." 

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  9. Very true David.  I hope I didn't come across anywhere as different than that because I do believe that completely.  I don't use research mainly for that reason, because there is always opposing views and opposing research.  Research is *mostly* done to prove ones point, and so *most* of the time it is somewhat biased.

    Some people on the other hand are just talking out their [bleep] - which is probably where I usually fall :) 

    I will restate my comment above in a slightly different way.  Whatever people try, people will find different things that work for them, however, in trying new things they have to understand it is new and their body is not used to it.  They have to give their body time to accept or reject what they are trying.  Too many times people try forcing something because it is what everybody is talking about, or what the "educated" people say is the way you should be going.

    I seem to remember a whole lot of eggs are good, eggs are bad statements from when I was growing up that reminds me of this somewhat.

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