Before we start our series of minimalist running shoe / sandal / socks reviews let’s talk a little about why people run barefoot, what the benefits are and if we really have to be barefoot to be barefoot.
By now most of us have heard of barefoot running (which we will be using as the primary term for barefoot, natural and minimalist running in this article) because it is becoming more and more popular. More companies produce minimalist running shoes, more magazines start reporting about the potential benefits of barefoot related forefoot / mid-foot running and more professional athletes are endorsing natural running shoes and brands.
A couple of years back Daniel Lieberman and his colleagues researched Biomechanics of foot strikes on barefoot and shod runners and to this day this study is one of the most quoted when it comes to advertising barefoot running – yet funny enough Lieberman clearly states that there is no proof that heel striking actually does cause more injuries than forefoot / mid-foot striking. However, they did prove that you have up to 7times as much impact on your body with every hell strike in comparison to fore/ mid-foot running which is a huge indicator that you can avoid many injuries with a more sufficient running style as produced when barefoot running.
Positive impacts of barefoot running we have heard about or experience ourselves include: Less stress on bones and ligaments, a more natural shorter but quicker turnover, improved endurance before muscles tire, improved speed, better body feel, more natural stance, huge endorphin boosts and so on!
Others like me had absolutely no idea this research existed much less cared about reading it. I simply wanted to try the ‘new’ thing once we started hearing about barefoot running in Europe and it all snowballed from there.
Then again others have to change something or have a life altering experience such as the near death experience Michael Sandler had. He almost lost his leg and was told he could never walk again and found a way back through barefoot running.
At the end of the day – it doesn’t matter why you want to be running barefoot. If you decide to try it follow some advice: Find your own way and level of barefoot running. This can be by running minimalist shoes with no heel drop and little cushion, or cushioned shoes with zero drop. You can take the next step and run in running sandals to go even more minimal or you can go ahead and try the all natural barefoot running. Try for yourself, find the level that works best for you and enjoy the positive impact it can have on you. Hey, and should you figure out it doesn’t work for you: Good on you. Go back to what used to work for you and enjoy every run and every mile you’re out there! There is no right or wrong to it. If Lieberman can’t tell you it’s gonna make everything good so can’t anybody else but you…but you’d be a fool not to try it!