*[Audio Content Available For Members Only. Click Here to Join Now]
Are minimalistic shoes like the Vibram 5 Fingers just a popular fad or a real physiological breakthrough in the sport of running?
Many runners today are going the minimalistic route and finding relief from foot and knee pain.
But before you ditch your highly cushy supportive running shoes for a pair of these minimalistic bad boys you need to see what experts are saying.
Is this an area where you need to jump on board, or a trend to let pass by?
If you are a beginner click here to get your risk free trial membership to our proven system for conquering the marathon.
In 2009, Christopher McDougall wrote the bestselling book Born to Run. Told by his doctor that he wasn’t built to run and should not continue to attempt it, McDougall goes on a fantastic journey to find help for himself. Setting off to find a “lost” tribe in the Copper Canyons of Mexico he comes in contact with an American known as Caballo Blanco (White Horse), who has gotten into the world of the Tarahumara Indians.
This book gives a great history of the ultra-running tribes of running lore, medical evidence that people were designed to run long distances, and brings you in contact with some amazing characters.
McDougall also talks about what he considers to be the painful truths of running shoes.
- The best shoes are the worst. Runners wearing top of the line shoes are 123% more likely to get injured than runners in cheap shoes.
- Feet like a good beating. Balance and vertical impact are closely related. The legs’ impact forces are lightest in bare feet and heaviest in well-cushioned shoes.
- Human beings are designed to run without shoes. The decondititioned musculature of the foot is the greatest issue leading to injury, and we’ve allowed our feet to become deconditioned over the past 25 years. Pronation has become this very bad word, but it’s just the natural movement of the foot. The foot is supposed to pronate.
Truly minimalist shoes are intended to help you develop your form by allowing your feet and legs to work the way they were intended to. In other words, the goal is to mimic how you would run if you were barefoot- shorter stride, faster cadence, and a midfoot or forefoot foot strike.
However, some experts have differing opinions. Listen to this quote from Dr. Jason Karp an exercise physiologist and USA Track & Field coach:
“I’ve been asked a lot lately about barefoot running/minimalist shoes. I’m not a big fan. For most people who run (who are also overweight), they are putting themselves at an increased risk by not having shoes with shock-absorbing qualities. We tend to copy what the best runners are doing, but while the Kenyans and Ethiopians grow up running barefoot, Americans do not, so it is not a natural way for us to run like it is for them. People can try it, but they would have to integrate it very slowly and systematically into their running.
I tend to agree with Dr. Karp, the careful and systematic approach is the best. Many people start by transitioning to minimalistic shoes and then go to barefoot running if they still feel that it would be of value to them. Here is what I would recommend:
- First, have a solid running base built up (preferably with shoes).
- Next, start by doing one shorter run per week BF/M style while listening to your body. You may need to use the run/walk approach to build up endurance slowly. At first your calves and feet may be very sore.
- Once you can comfortably do one shorter run per week BF/M, try to add another day per week.
In conlusion, barefoot and minimalistic running is definately worth a try. It might do wonders for your knee pain. Just make sure you transition slowly and listen to your body.
Books Mentioned in This Episode
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
Barefoot Running- How to Run Light and Free by Getting in Touch with the Earth by Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee
P.S., I would love to hear about your experience with a minimalistic shoe.