I’ve read a lot of interesting articles on barefoot running over the past six months. Some have been better than others, actually seeking out opinions from both sides of actual doctors and educated researchers. Others have simply been rants and raves.
The gist of it is that we are built to run barefoot, but shoe companies have kept up from doing so for decades as they continue to come up with “better” shoes to “correct” the problems that we have with our strides. Some people will benefit from running barefoot, but there are dangers to doing so. Namely, there are things on the road (sharp rocks, glass, etc) that our shoes can help protect our feet, protection that barefoot running simply cannot provide. The other danger is that we can injure our feet by thinking we can simply take our current shoe-wearing miles and switch right over to going barefoot for the same distances. In reality, we need to adjust, as muscles we do not fully use in shoes are utilized when running barefoot.
It would seem that Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs) are a nice “happy medium.” They provide you with as close to a “barefoot” experience as you can get while still providing you mild protection from road debris and from stubbing your toes. At less than $100 for most pairs, they are also less than many running shoes offered today.
I just ordered a pair of VFFs online. Once they arrive, I am not sure that I will be hitting the pavement in them right away (or possibly ever). Instead, I am going to use them for weight training, as I think they will provide me with an opportunity to strengthen the stabilizing muscles in my feet for any exercise where I am standing, from the obvious squats and deadlifts all the way to bicep curls or tricep rope pulldowns. I may also wear them around the office (if work doesn’t mind).
We’ll see how I like them. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up running in them after all?