The latest trend in fitness footwear is, in truth, the very oldest.... and most accessible.... your own two feet. For most of history, humans have run in either lightweight shoes or bare feet.
“People have been running barefoot for millions of years, and it has only been since 1972 that people have been wearing shoes with thick, synthetic heels” says Daniel Lieberman, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University.
Lieberman and colleagues have determined that the way barefoot runners typically land is more comfortable and may help avoid repetitive impact stress injuries as compared to their running shoe shod counterparts.
Studies are now bearing out that modern running shoes may in fact increase the risk of injury and that runners wearing low quality running shoes have fewer injuries than those with more expensive ones.
According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, athletic footwear has been associated with frequent injury thought to result from repetitive impact. Researchers found that expensive athletic shoes with extensive cushioning result in 123% greater injury frequency than the lower ones do.
As more research suggests that naked feet are preferable to high-tech running shoes, minimalist footwear like Nike Free and FiveFingers is becoming more popular. Nike Free footwear is designed to strengthen the foot muscles by ensuring less constriction. Vibram has developed a line of ‘barefoot performance footwear’ known simply as FiveFingers®.
Testimonial according to Squidoo -- After 11 days of Testing FiveFingers, Peter Sagal a 3:20 marathoner and the host of NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me wrote:
Back in the FiveFingers I zip around the track as if I've been freed from eight-ounce ankle weights. I run pain-free and fast. My friend running behind me (ha!) says that my gait has changed. Indeed, I feel as if I'm running more on the outside of my foot, rolling the of impact forward to the toes, where I can actively push off.
I myself have endured shinsplints since my cheerleading days in school. When I took up running I always figured high-end reputably-named footwear would help prevent further injury. After doing the research for this blog post not only am I going to check into getting some FiveFingers of my own, but I am going to re-evaluate my foot fitness... if nothing else I think this should warrant a pedicure, don't you?