Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Barefoot Running Part I

So I received an email from a runner I've worked with in the past for various issues. She's taken my rants to heart and has started some barefoot running. It really surprised me, as I tend to think of barefooters as a fringe bunch, and she is a pretty straight-laced mom. But there is no denying the sheer pleasure of running without shoes. Her only complant is:

"My problem is that I run to [the trail] in my Sauconies and then run barefoot and put my shoes back on to run home and I feel awkward trying to run in my shoes after running barefoot. It just feels wrong! "

I've felt the same way since starting to wear my Vibram Five Fingers. As I've grown accustomed to them I always find they are what go on my feet as I head out the door. The biggest surprise for me so far is how easy its gotten to run even on the road in the Vibrams, which have absolutely no cushioning. I run often in Evergreen cemetary, and usually by default wind up in the grass or dirt roads, even when wearing shoes. The other morning while running there in the Virbrams, having been lost in thought for a while, I realized I was on the asphalt, but hadn't even recognized the difference.

Studies have shown that when your run barefoot, you automatically adjust your gait to soak up the impact with your muscles and tendons. There is even an observed paradox, when measuring Ground Reaction Forces, that barefooters actually are landing with less force. The cushioning of the shoe attenuates some of the pain signal to your brain, so essentially it allows you to land harder.

Running in Vibrams (to abbreviate I'll start calling it "Varefooting") gives you the same benefits with an extra layer to protect your skin.

There will be many more posts on this topic.....