We have all grown up wearing shoes. We wear them for everything. They help us look good, protect our feet, and make us comfortable. From the time we start walking we are introduced to shoes. We adapt accordingly throughout life to be one with our shoes. Shoes are more of an extension of our body than any other piece of clothing. So, why try to take away a part of your make up?
It's no secret that there is a big "minimalist" running trend going on. In the races I've been a part of over the last 4 years I'd usually see some dude running barefoot and think to myself "How can that be good for you?" There was usually only 1 person doing it so I didn't pay much attention. However, in the last year, this minimalist mentality has gained increased popularity thanks mostly to the folks at Vibram and their FiveFingers "shoes". I am loosely categorizing them as shoes because they go on your feet, but to me they look more like Foot Work Gloves.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="220" caption="I fear these "shoes" would destroy me"][/caption]
Other manufacturers have gotten into the concept also. My two favorite brands New Balance and Brooks have their lines called the Minimus & Green Silence. These are your more traditional shoe-looking foot covers, but are supposed to promote a barefoot feel when running. I will say both these shoes actually look like they could be comfortable, but still not sure on the hype around this whole thing and that the shoes can live up to the daily demand you place on your running shoes.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="240" caption="I fear I would destroy this shoe."][/caption]
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="208" caption="I am biodegradable. "][/caption]
Here's a little background info on the supposed benefits of Barefoot running. Also to qualify my perspective a bit I will say that I have a degree in Exercise Science and a minor in Biology. I'm not a doctor and I don't work in a health related setting. I now work in IT and my only connection to health & fitness is that I run, workout, & read a lot. So take my opinion it for what its worth (which is nothing short of awesome).
- Comfort & Efficiency - They are kind of one in the same with running. The theory with Barefoot running is that it will promote runners to run/land on the balls of their feet as opposed to leading with the heel and then rolling through the toes. Its believed that this is the more "natural" way of doing things and that landing on the mid & forefoot lessen the blow to the joints as opposed to landing on the heel. Got it?
- Increased lower leg strength. Remember that Seinfeld episode with Jimmy? Well Jimmy uses special jumping shoes that help his vert. This is similar but instead of adding to the front of a shoe, you take away from the back and emphasize landing towards the front. This will cause the calves & other lower leg muscles to build up and promote more stability in your lower leg. Also, George likes his Kung Pao spicy.
Here's why I think its goofy:
- Over-compensating for a lack of shoe could promote just as many or more injuries than just running with shoes. We are familiar with shoes. Unless going barefoot to work becomes socially acceptable, only then will we all get natural or minimal.
- As a larger person (200-ish lbs) are you to tell me that I would benefit from having less cushioning to absorb shock between the ground and my foot? It wouldn't matter where I landed on my foot, I'd be applying more direct stress to my body for sure. Its simple math really.
If someone would like to prove me wrong on this, I am all for it. I will gladly take on a challenge to try it, I am a size 14 2E. However, know that my opinions and body type are stacked against liking this and ultimately succeeding at it.
Also, I know I use a lot of bullet formatting in my writing. I am not a poet & this is the way my brain processes info.