Posts Tagged ‘Barefoot Running’

Running Redux

January 29, 2010

There’s yet another story today that highlights the idea of running shoeless.  I expounded on the topic earlier in the week and it’s only fitting that we end the week in the same fashion.

A study being published in the journal Nature says wearing cushioned running shoes (aka most mass market sneakers) may have changed the way we run and also poses a greater risk of certain injuries.

The facts aren’t anything we haven’t already heard in the barefoot vs. sneakers argument.  What is worth noting is that this is the first time I’ve heard of anything negative associated with running shoeless.  

Havard University’s Dr. Daniel Lieberman, one of the study’s authors, says,

“Barefoot runners have to use their calf muscles and Achilles tendon much more to control ankle flexion. So people who switch to this style of running are much more likely to develop calf problems if they don’t do so slowly, carefully and with a lot of stretching.”

And the article goes on to say there still needs to be much more research done on which way is the best way to cover the foot while running.

I couldn’t agree more.

SOURCE: Shoes may have changed how we run


The Joy of Running

January 26, 2010

A couple of months ago, I wrote about a book called “Born to Run” and its emphasis on running barefoot.  That post was based on several reviews and interviews I read, but since reading the book myself I’ve come to realize all those articles missed the point. 

Sure author Christopher MacDougall laments the modern running shoe and advocates a simpler approach to running, but the book isn’t propaganda for barefoot running.  In fact, MacDougall pokes fun at one of his characters who does run shoeless.  The main point of the book, I feel, is the joy running can bring.

If you’ve ever struggled through a mile, you probably think I’m nuts, but hear me out.  You ever have one of those workouts when you get into such a groove that the miles and/or minutes fly by?  When everything that was nagging you both mentally and physically just melts away?  When you’re smiling during the workout?  It’s that feeling and its origin that MacDougall tries to capture in his book. 

I’m not much a runner myself, but I came away with a newfound appreciation for it and a determination to try and enjoy the excercise myself.  If you are a runner or just enjoy reading captivating stories, pick up “Born to Run.”

Running Barefoot

November 4, 2009

It seems every few years a new fitness craze takes the country by storm. (Remember Tae-Bo?)  This time around, it’s barefoot running.

Christopher McDougall is the author of “Born to Run” and in it, he argues humans are meant to run sans shoes.  (really!)ph8qg3no(2)

He points to the earliest humans (Nike didn’t exist in the time of the cavemen, afterall) and the Tarahumara tribe of Mexico’s Copper Canyons as proof.  In the case of the Tarahumara, tribe members run hundreds of miles over rocky terrain outfitted only with flimsy sandals made of thin strips of rubber.

McDougall even takes it one step further and says sneakers are to blame for the injuries that plague modern runners.  He says the shoes’ cushioning lead to overtraining and overstriding.  Basically, if you run barefoot, you’re going to be lighter on your feet and won’t push yourself as hard if it starts to get painful.  (A valid point, I think.)

But foot doctors aren’t as convinced and a quick Google News search reveals the podiatric community seems to be split on the issue.

I have to say, the idea intrigues me and McDougall’s evolutionary argument makes sense, but I don’t think I’ll be kicking off the sneaks anytime soon.  We are talking about the streets and sidewalks of New York City, afterall.

If you’re braver than me, here’s some basic advice:

Start out slowly.  Like any new exercise, you want to gradually build up the amount of time you spend doing it.

And please, if you have pre-exisiting foot problems, ask your podiatrist first!