Tag Archives: running

Barefoot Running

This is quite an interesting development, one that is long overdue. Over the Line, Smokey! will be doing a series of posts on this topic. I previously posted a series on the Vibram Five Fingers “shoe,” concluding that it didn’t turn out to be what I needed/wanted. Now, however, the subject of minimalist/no footware has progressed to the point that there are more things worthy of discussion.

The place to start is undoubtedly the evolution of the human foot and its functions. However, that is somewhat boring, so I choose to start today with a more interesting topic: “Doesn’t barefoot running hurt your feet?”

The answer is “YES, any kind of running can hurt your feet.” It is very important to realize that pain and injuries can result from barefoot running, but that is also true of any type of conditioning.

There are two general types of injuries that can result from barefoot running: trauma, and overuse.
Traumatic injuries include bumps, bruises, blisters, cuts, punctures, beestings, abrasions, and burns.
The frequency of these injuries is due in large part related to the failure to ease into barefoot running, find suitable running venues, toughen up the skin and tissues, and learn proper running technique.

The second category of injury can be called overuse, though misuse is also included. Barefoot running requires a different type of stride, landing, cadence and use of bone, muscle, tendons, ligaments and other body tissues. The development and adaptation of these body parts requires practice, good form, and at least three months of slowly building up the whole package. Attempting to progress faster than that can result in stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, or other unpleasant and nagging conditions.

I recently purchased The Complete Idiots Guide to Barefoot Running
http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Idiots-Guide-Barefoot-Running/dp/1615640622 and have found it to be quite informative, though somewhat padded with generalities, prone to exaggeration of research studies, and embarassingly ignorant of some basic principles of physics. For the money, however, it is GOLD, particularly for its conservative schedule for getting into barefoot running.

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Pose running style: does this work? UPDATED

There are a large number of videos on the web showing various aspects of pose running. This may be the best introductory one.

Further explanation can be found here, though I don’t think they really have it right. As best I can tell, “pose running” comprises short strides, decreased use of hip flexors, increased conscious use of hamstrings, and slight forward lean, with slightly flexed knee during forefoot strike. The talk about pose runners being propelled by gravity is pretty much nonsense, like a perpetual motion machine. I guess they make some money selling a belt with rubber bands that work with your hamstrings to flex the knees.
But there is something real here, and I suspect it might have to do with the “braking” action inherent in conventional knee drive/heel strike running. That is, if the impact occurs with the foot out in front of the body, then that impact tends to reduce speed. In contrast, during pose running, the impact occurs with the foot under the body. This would tend not to slow the runner, and would also decrease the impact somewhat.

I think I get it, and am going to give it a try.
UPDATE: after a couple of sessions, I think it may have some merit. But making the transition from heel strike to forefoot strike has given me some sore calves. I would recommend making a gradual transition.

I am not so sure that the emphasis on high rear kick is helpful…anything done to further elevate the foot after it leaves the ground is wasted energy.

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Incredibly cool, incredibly ugly Vibram Five Fingers shoes UPDATED

I’m gettin I got me a pair….no way my feet could be any uglier than they already are. I ordered a big ugly pair and three pairs of socks from the Kayak Shed.

Here’s another video.
UPDATE: added some of the five toed socks to my order, and it’s on the way! here! Well, they are pretty great so far. It does take about five minutes to put on a pair of the sox and the shoes. But that seems to be getting faster each time. I got the black KSO’s because they are the only ones that come in size 48, which I needed. The fit is good. It does feel quite a bit like barefoot. No rubbing problem so far and I have walked about two miles in them altogether. They are not as warm as regular shoe/socks, so far…I am going to do a little jogging today.

UPDATE: jogging went well. The socks are great, I think, for foot health. Planning a longer jog today.
UPDATE: jogged a mile or so. Semi-stumbled a couple of times, partly because of forefoot strike. Definitely felt like running barefoot, and like I could eventually go faster. Much lighter than my other running shoes.
UPDATE: did about 1.5 miles of jogging today. Less stumbling. I would say the lightness of the shoes is equal in effect to losing about 10-15 lbs of body weight. Running every other day. Still some tightness in the calves from changing to forefoot strike.
UPDATE: up to 2 miles; stumbling continues occasionally. Would not recommend newbies running on concrete because of the possibility of falling. On the other hand, my falls may have been related to uneven ground and “grass-grabbing.”
UPDATE: up to 2.5 miles. Feet are fine. Still a bit shy about these feet-shoes, but seeing the article in NY Times business section will perhaps help me get over that. I would say that the biggest issue besides the stumbling is how long it takes to put on the socks and the shoes.

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