I enjoy running, and I’ve been a runner for several years now. I’ve had a knee injury setback that kept me from becoming a high-mileage, long-distance freak-a-zoid, which was probably for the better, but I’ve still enjoyed running, these days for short distances. I usually do some form of cross-training: running, swimming, cycling, and calisthenics.
Those of you who are among the faithful readers of my blogging (God bless you) might remember that I’ve experimented a bit with barefoot running. Recently I’ve acquired a pair of sleek and savvy Vibram FiveFinger shoes. Vibram is the leader of minimalist running shoes. Minimalism is a less-is-more movement in running. My Vibram shoes do not have cushioning, to speak of, just a sole; they fit like a glove and when I wear them (which is about all the time now) it feels like I am walking around barefoot.
The scientific advantages to eliminating the cushioning include: strengthening your lower leg muscles, realigning your body into a more healthy posture (for the back, especially), increasing the sensors in the feet, reducing ankle turns (because your feet are directly on the ground), as well as others. A barefoot runner lands on the full foot, favoring the front of the foot, while a runner wearing traditional running shoes will tend to land on the heel, especially after s/he is tired. Landing on the heel, however, sends the shock of each step up through the leg and into the knee and hip joints. So, theoretically, this adjustment of the running gait should reduce the wear and tear on knees and other joints.
Running in a minimalist shoe also has the advantage of using less materials and as such, it is more eco-friendly. I also enjoy running in my Vibrams or running barefoot. I like the feel of my own feet. Regular shoes now feel very constrictive. Like someone locked my feet in the closet!
I recommend minimalist shoes (or going barefoot) to anyone, for running or for everyday wear. But if you use them for running, give your legs time to get used to it. The tendons and muscles in your lower legs will need time to adjust and get stronger.
Remember, you are the technology….and if you don’t believe me, then go ask the naked people at youarethetechnology.com.