Monday, September 28, 2009

Barefoot Running

I recently likened the new cult of barefoot running to the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers - at first it's just one person, but then more and more people start to succumb until eventually the whole town is infected.

Well, since most of my friends had already been converted, it was only a matter of time before my natural curiosity and need to experiment got the better of me and I had to try it for myself. So this past weekend I plonked down some wonga for my very own pair of Vibram FiveFingers KSO.

The theory behind it all, as detailed in the excellent "Born to Run" is that conventional running shoes promote rather than prevent injury by interfering with the way we were naturally meant to run. The argument is that pronation is a natural action for which your feet compensate and should not be protected or altered by running shoes. It's a compelling argument, and the Vibrams claim to allow you to reconnect with barefoot running, forcing you to change your stride and strike action back to what it's supposed to be. Here's the blurb from their website:

The typical human foot is an anatomical marvel of evolution with 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments. Like the rest of the body, to keep our feet healthy, they need to be stimulated and exercised.

When you go barefoot, your movements become the movements of a child—playful and sensitive, yet purposeful and confident. You experience the unbound joy of stepping, hopping, and running across any surface on earth, simply to get from here to there.

Vibram FiveFingers® allow you to relive that sensation. Unlike conventional shoes that insulate you from your surroundings, FiveFingers footwear deepens your connection to the earth and your surroundings. FiveFingers enhance your sense of touch and feel, while improving foot strength, balance, agility, and range of motion. Because wearing Vibram FiveFingers is so close to going barefoot, you’ll enjoy the health and performance benefits of barefooting without some of the risks.
While I haven't run in them yet, I have been wearing them on walks around the neighborhood, and have done several workouts and yoga practices in them. They feel very comfortable, fit my feet like a glove and it really does feel as if you're walking barefoot. I feel a lot of traction with the ground and have a much better sense of the surface I'm traveling over.

However, I am more dubious as to their suitability for running and I certainly won't be wearing them at Cactus Rose. My friend Shawn ran a 22 minute 5k in them yesterday and is a total believer. I will need a lot more convincing, but I will give them a fair crack, test them out on some shorter runs and keep you posted on my progress.


clea said...

Ahhhh, say it isn't so!!! Peer pressure got you!

Anonymous said...

yes, short & sweet..that would be good enuf for us...

btw, u r pulling away from me....i got 30m to catch up with ya...will get there this weekend....

run mate, run.