Next time you happen upon a 5- or 10-K race happening in your area, have a look at the runner’s feet. Chances are you’ll see a few folks wearing shoes that look more like socks, and even a few sporting bare feet. What’s this all about?
The barefoot and minimalist running movements are gathering steam in North America and around the world. Their message is simple; human beings were meant to run barefoot; high-tech cushioned running shoes are excessive and we should be weaned off our dependance on them.
Strengthening the barefoot case are new scientific studies emerging from places like Harvard University, a postive article in the New York Times, and minimalist-friendly products being launched like the Nike Free Series and the New Balance Minimus line.
Barefoot advocates encourage runners new to minimalism to reduce their use of conventional running shoes gradually and to adopt a more joint-friendly gait while running. Running in cushioned shoes allows an athlete to strike the ground with their heel first, as opposed to the mid- or front-foot strikes that occur naturally when running sans footwear. This, they put forward, adds up to better form, less injuries, and ultimately higher levels of fitness and agility. Nike free's are in between.
Want to give barefoot a go? Start with a few low-mileage runs and progress slowly, using your body’s indications as guide. More information about transitioning to barefoot running can be found at runbare.com
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