Reduce Your Exposure to Injury by Retraining Your Running Gait

Which Barefoot Running Inspired Shoe is Best

I ran barefoot...once.  I think I was eight.  So why are all of the grown who can afford expensive heart rate monitoring watches, running through our neighborhoods sans shoes.  Barefoot running has exploded in a groundswell of publications, videos, and barefoot running inspired shoes.  

Even though running barefoot has been around awhile (perhaps for a few millennia), it has gained force recently because of Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run, which details the Mexican Tarahumara tribe of, according to the cover of his book, “Super Athletes.”

In terms of running mechanics, barefoot running encourages the athlete to switch from landing in a heel to toe progression toward more of a midsole landing.  Theoretically, the heel pad is very limited in the amount of cushion it is able to use to absorb that kind of direct impact and that landing more on the midsole diffuses the impact across the length of the foot which is better cushioned to absorb that impact.

Whether you think the concept of barefoot running is a craze or movement, there is no denying that shoe companies have quickly jumped on the bandwagon and we are seeing numerous running shoe models being raced through production and appearing on store shelves.  Quite frankly, the only way I would consider running barefoot is with one of these pair of shoes.  So Find out which barefoot running inspired shoe is best for you.


Nike Free +2 Run

            The Nike Free +2 Run shoes are lightweight and designed to provide support for the foot while not restricting any movement. They provide great cushion and flexibility. Some additional benefits include an inner sleeve, a phylite midsole and outsole, and deep flex grooves. The inner sleeve wraps around your foot providing a close yet comfortable fit. The phylite midsole and outsole make the shoe very light and efficient.  Phylite is Nike’s advancement of the popular EVA (cross-linked foam made of ethylene and vinyl acetate) that is made up of hundreds of thousands of cells containing air or gas).  As the shoe compresses upon impact, gas is forced out and then re-inflates back into the cells which increases the cushioning potential of the material.  However, over time, the material loses some of it’s resistance and doesn’t respond as well.  Phylite is supposed to be a stronger and more resistant version of EVA.  These shoes have a separate rubber midsole and outsole which makes increases the weight.  The deep flex grooves along the outsole increase the maximum range of motion and flexibility.  This shoe is great for running as it attempts to reproduce the natural feel of barefoot running which has become quite popular today. Also, because of the quality support, the Nike Free +2 shoe is equally as good in the weight room or for training with agility drills.


Vibram FiveFingers

 Vibram FiveFingers were just recently put on the market for the running and training crowd. Similar to the Nike Free+2, the Vibram Fivefingers is an attempt at trying to capitalize on the barefoot running phenomenon that is becoming very popular.  The purpose of the shoe design is to simulate being barefoot. Depending on the type of training that you will do, there are different patterns of tread for each shoe. Whether you plan on training on the trails or the gym Vibram has created a tread pattern specifically for that environment.  According to the Vibram website, barefoot running converts want to “Imagine footwear that can actually help make the foot healthier, that can strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs, improve range of motion and increase sensory reception important to balance and agility.”  Many fitness experts are suggesting that we were made to run barefoot because it is easier on your joints as you don’t create as much impact with the ground as you would if you were wearing normal shoes and barefoot running teaches you to run on the balls of your feetyou’re your training preference is more geared toward the weight room, these shoes will perform well there as well. They do an excellent job of helping to strengthen your calves, ankles, and foot muscles. They also recreate neural functions which will increase your stability and balance.  The Vibrams model are designed to spread your body weight out evenly, thus encouraging better posture and reducing spinal misalignments. These shoes are one of the most technologically advanced as Vibram spent a lot of effort in kinesthetic  research and design before producing these shoes.  

Asics Gel-DS Trainer 16

These shoes provided more of a traditional design although they are amazing light weight coming in at 10 ounces.  Some proprietary features of the Asics shoe include: the Impact Guidance System  which is support the foots natural movement of landing softly on the heel to pushing off the toe, Asymmetrical Lacing Design which is supposed to create a more effective lacing pattern and by so doing reduce possible irritation, and the use of Guidance line flex grooves to encourage more efficient running form.

New Balance Minimus MR10

One of the big features of the New Balance running shoe is “No-Sew construction design at the forefront of the shoe which reduces the number of seams and thus eliminates possible friction points.  Also, because the Minimus MR10 only has a 4mm drop from the heel of the shoe to the shoe toe it effectively encourages the athlete to improve their running form which theoretically improve the risk of injury.  




And The Winner Is...

All four of these shoe models are a worthy investment for any serious runner.  However, despite the popularity and the unique look of the vibram Five Fingers, the Nike Free + 2 Run is the best shoe of the group because of it’s overall build quality. These shoes will help you reach your running goals whether they be in running, especially if you are looking to jump into the concept of barefoot running.  The durability and flexibility of the Nike Free + 2 Run is very comfortable, light, and responsive.  If you are looking to have an advantage over the competition, then any of these barefoot running inspired shoes are the are sure to help you meet your goals.