Barefoot-Ted-Shoes-Running-Feetus.co.uk

Why Should I Adopt A Barefoot Running Style?

Barefoot running has seen a huge surge in interest since the 2009 release of Christopher McDougall’s bestseller Born to Run.

As appetite grows for shoes that replicate the ‘feel’ of running with bare feet, have you taken the time to understand exactly why running barefoot is good for you?

Why Should I Adopt A Barefoot Running Style?

Runners in shoes typically land on their heels, using the cushioning built in to the heel of the shoe. When your foot lands in this manner, it sends a jolt of force though your ankles, knees, hips and spine. This impact is called a transient force spike.

Running barefoot promotes a different technique. Runners who run barefoot tend to land on their forefoot or midfoot. This effectively keeps the landing point closer to your centre of gravity (as opposed to in front of the body, like shoe-clad runners).

When you run, your muscles, ligaments, and tendons in and around your feet will provide you with a natural spring-like mechanism, reducing the impact (transient force) through your body.

Correct Running Technique
Correct Running Technique

It’s All About Technique

Running with bare feet (or with barefoot shoes) will not guarantee injury-free running. Instead, you have to ensure you learn correct technique, focusing on a forefoot/midfoot strike, a shorter gait (shorter, faster foot steps), and only increase your mileage incrementally.

If you tried to run barefoot the same way you do when you’re in running shoes, it would really hurt. You should lose the shoes to understand how to run in a way that feels light and comfortable. Once you have mastered this, start to increase your mileage by around 10% and you may find running more fun and less likely to cause injuries.

There is no science that proves running shoes are helpful. In fact, people lived for millions of years without shoes. Until the 1970’s, runners enjoyed running without padding, orthotics, pronation, arch support, and motion control shoes.

Stephen Sashen from Xero Shoes (rather splendidly) puts it this way:

The three parts of our body that have the most nerve endings are our hands, our mouths and our feet. There’s only one of those that we regularly cover and make numb to the world… does that seem right?

Put a limb in a cast and it comes out of the cast a month later atrophied and weaker. When bind your feet in shoes that don’t let your foot flex or feel the earth, isn’t that similar to putting it in a cast (or as barefoot runners like to say, a “foot coffin”)?

Vibram FiveFingers running
Vibram FiveFinges offer perfect protection when you’re out on the trails!

Barefoot Running Shoes

Of course, in today’s world we can scarcely discard our shoes in favour of bare feet. That’s where barefoot shoes come in. They give you the sensation of running barefoot, whilst providing protection from anything nasty you may step on. VIVOBAREFOOT shoes have puncture-resistant soles. Xero Shoes have FeelTrue rubber soles that are guaranteed for 5,000 miles. And of course, Vibram FiveFingers and Merrell running shoes are equipped with Vibram TC-1 rubber – Very flexible, yet extremely durable!

 

Want to learn more about correct running technique? …Head over to the VIVOBAREFOOT Training Clinic.

What are your favourite barefoot running shoes? Let us know by making a comment…

 

Gordon Pirie’s ‘Running Fast and Injury Free’ – A Must-Read for Aspiring Runners

Gordon Pirie’s ‘Running Fast and Injury Free’ – A Must-Read for Aspiring Runners

I first read this book back in 2009 whilst nursing a knee injury and trying to find a solution. Much of the content mirrors what Christopher McDougall covered in his bestseller Born to Run, and other subsequent running publications related to running performance.

Go Barefoot or Go Minimalist

He points out that no professional athletes compete in “overstuffed, wedge-heeled orthopaedic boots that most joggers wear”, and that “the difference between running in bare feet and in the typical jogging shoe can be up to 30 seconds a mile.” As such, Pirie always advised his trainees to wear the lightest shoe they could find. “These shoes” Pirie continues “should have the same amount of padding at the front under the toes as at the rear, with no wedged or flared heels.”

Technique

In Running Fast and Injury Free, Pirie’s advocated technique is not too dissimilar to the POSE Technique, or what is commonly regarded as the natural / barefoot style. He advises taking shorter steps (3-5 steps per second) as opposed to striding and heel-striking, which wastes energy on vertical movement of the body (Joggers ‘bobbing’ up and down). He also describes his collaboration with Adidas-founder Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler on designing running shoes.

Performance Gains

Pirie was a controversial character, and he doesn’t shy away from the odd controversial statement in this book. It is at times contradictory (“walking damages running”, then later adding he would add 4-hour walking sessions to his training. Yet ‘Running Fast and Injury Free’ is still an enjoyable read with some fantastic advice, and by taking heed of some of Pirie words you will probably cover more ground faster.

Running Barefoot Minimalist Fast and Injury Free Gordon Pirie Feetus.co.uk
Zapotek, Mimoun, and Gordon Pirie lead the way in the 1952 10,000m Final
(Also notice Sando (84) missing his left shoe!)

You can both read the book for free online, or download the PDF here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/13695/Gordon-Piries-Running-Fast-and-Injury-Fre

Gordon Pirie’s Laws of Running:

  1. Running with correct technique (even in prepared bare feet), on any surface, is injury free.
  2. Running equals springing through the air, landing elastically on the forefoot with a flexed knee (thus producing quiet feet). On landing, the foot should be directly below the body. (Walking is landing on the heels with a straight leg).
  3. Any and all additions to the body damage running skill.
  4. Quality beats quantity; the speed at which you practice the most will be your best speed.
  5. Walking damages running.
  6. The correct running tempo for human beings is between three and five steps per second.
  7. Arm power is directly proportional to leg power.
  8. Good posture is critical to running. (Don’t lean forwards!).
  9. Speed kills endurance; endurance kills speed.
  10. Each individual can only execute one “Program” at any one time; an individual can be identified by his or her idiosyncrasies (i.e. “Program”). An individual can change his or her “Program” only by a determined, educational effort; each individual’s Program” degenerates unless it is controlled constantly.
  11. Static stretching exercises cause injuries!
  12. Running equals being out of breath, so breathing through the mouth is obligatory (hence the nickname “Puff Puff Pirie”).

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your thoughts and comment on this post.

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