Archive for the tag - barefoot running

Study: Are Barefoot Running Shoes Dangerous?

vibram_fivefingers_flow_1Over the past few years, barefoot running has been gaining traction in the running community. In fact, it’s estimated that minimalist shoes now make up 15% of the .5 billion running shoe market.

There is some science to back up the trend. As I reported early, barefoot running can increase efficiency:

Oxygen consumption is typically 4% to 5% lower in barefoot running, which is attributed to factors including moving the shoes’ weight (energy demand increases about 1% for every 100g of additional mass on the foot), the bending resistance and friction of the sole, midsole energy absorption, and energy lost to metatarsophalangeal joint stiffness.

A recent study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise is adding more science to the barefoot running debate. For the study, researchers examined 36 experienced runners over a 10-week period. All participants underwent an MRI before the study and were then divided into two groups of either traditional running shoes or five finger barefoot running shoes.

Participants in the barefoot group followed the suggested industry protocol by easing into the barefoot running shoes:

They did one short (1-2 mile) run in the minimalist shoes the first week, and added an additional short run each week so that they ran at least 3 miles in the new shoes by week three. They were then told to add mileage in the minimal shoes as they felt comfortable, with the goal of replacing one short run per week in traditional shoes with the new shoes.

At the end of the 10-week study, all participants were again given MRIs. According to researchers, the runners in the barefoot group showed significant signs of stress including bone marrow edema (inflammation causing excessive fluid in the bone).

One researcher noted:

Whenever a bone is impacted by running or some other repetitive action, it goes through a normal remodeling process to get stronger. Injury occurs when the impact is coming too quickly or too powerfully, and the bone doesn’t have a chance to properly remodel before impact reoccurs.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that barefoot running or minimalist running shoes are necessarily bad. Instead, the study suggests that a longer transition period may be advisable. If you’ve been running your whole life in traditional running shoes, give yourself more than a few weeks to become accustomed.

Personally, I prefer the Nike Free Run shoes. They’re light, flexible and emulate barefoot running while still providing some support. In fact, my feet didn’t fit properly in the five finger shoes – so they weren’t an option for me. The Free Run shoes also come in different levels of support to help your transition. Even so, it’s taken me almost a year and several pairs of Nike Free Run shoes to fully transition and commit to the minimalist sneakers.

Have you ever tried minimalist running shoes? Let me know about it in the comments below!

Disclaimer: This isn’t a paid endorsement or sponsorship of Nike Free Run sneakers.

Barefoot Running Benefits.

Barefoot running has developed something of a cult following – and, admittedly, I’m starting to drink the Kool-Aid. You might even say that it’s a movement.

Think about it: Our feet are the result of millions of years of evolution and designed to safely and efficiently transport our bodies over a variety of surfaces at varying speeds. Running shoes, on the other hand, have only been around for a few decades. Maybe there’s something to be said for being barefoot.

I’m a big fan of data, but there hasn’t been much research on running barefoot versus running with shoes. And so, I was excited to discover a new study about barefoot running by researchers at Northumbria University.

The study followed a mix of recreational and trained runners who completed a variety of runs in both shoes and barefoot on separate days. The study concluded that newly barefoot runners immediately alter their gait to that of habitual barefoot runners – and strike the ground with lower impact forces and loading rates than runners who use shoes. The altered gait is both safer and more comfortable.

Moreover, barefoot runners used an average of 6% less oxygen. In other words, their running became 6% more efficient. This could be for a number of reasons – not the least of which may be the added weight of sneakers. According to research, there’s about a 1% increase in energy demand for every 100 grams of additional footwear mass.

A mere 6% might not sound like much – but when you look at Olympic events, for example, you quickly realize that every hundredth of a second counts. Even a little added efficiency can make a huge difference for athletes performing at this level.

While the increases in efficiency and decreases in injury risk associated with barefoot running may seem small and inconsequential for most recreational runners, I’d recommend giving it a try. If you’re interested, the Nike Free Run (read my review) is a great transitional sneaker. It’s the sneaker that I use, and I’m in love with its flexibility.

And beyond the potential benefits, there’s something very freeing, natural and almost romantic about running barefoot and feeling the earth beneath your feet. That is, until you step on a piece of glass.

In the comments below, let me know if you’re a fan of barefoot running – or if you’re curious to give it a try.

Product Review: Nike Free Run+ Running Sneakers.

My pair of Nike Free Run+ running sneakers.

In a post from last year, I shared that there aren’t any huge benefits to running barefoot:

Barefoot running reduces heel strike and the impact associated with it, but there is not one piece of evidence that links high impacts to injury. The most common running injuries—patellofemoral pain syndrome and fasciitis—have nothing to do with impact.

Nonetheless, barefoot running has developed a cult following – and I’ve been curious to see what all the fuss is about.

This past weekend, I decided to take a step in the direction of barefoot running by purchasing a pair of the newly re-designed Nike Free Run+ sneakers. Truth be told, I intended to purchase a

The Nike Free Run+ sneaker is incredibly lightweight and flexible.

pair of Vibram FiveFingers, but my freakish toes didn’t fit properly in the glove-like shoe. So, I settled on the Nike Free Run+ as a close second.

Depending on your degree of comfort with barefoot running, there are two variations of the Free Run+ sneaker. I opted for the $100 beginner model, but was immediately surprised by the shoe’s flexibility and weight (or lack thereof). Though the sneaker provides some support and cushion, it feels like there’s nothing on your feet. It was love at first stride.

I’ve spent the last few days testing the Nike Free Run+ sneaker at the gym. I’ve completed a few distance runs and intervals. Through it all, the sneaker held up beautifully – and, though my stride did feel different and more natural, there was no resulting soreness.

My only complaint is that small rocks and pebbles easily get caught in the large grooves in the shoe’s sole. And that, because the sneakers are so comfortable, I never want to take them off.

Disclaimer: Davey Wavey was not compensated in any way, shape or form by Nike or its affiliates to write this product review.