Posts tagged ‘running’

Barefoot Running is Better for Joints Than Running in Shoes

By Chad Upton | Editor

Some people think these shoes look weird:

But, they just look like feet. So, maybe it’s our shoe stressed feet that look weird. If you look at your toes, they’re not spread out like your fingers. Most people’s toes are squished together in the shape of a shoe, even when they’re not in shoes.

That’s weird.

I never really thought about it much, until I saw a pair of these shoes. They’re called “Five Fingers” and they’re made by a company called Vibram. They’re a bit pricey, so you may also want to look at Fila’s similar and slightly cheaper version called “Skele-toes.” This style of footwear are to shoes what winter gloves are to mittens.

These shoes and the growing category of “minimalist running shoes” are a hot trend in running circles right now. There are many reasons why, but the ten most convincing reasons are on the floor in front of you.

We’ve been cramming our feet into unnatural shoes since childhood, but what would our feet look like if we had never worn shoes? Probably something like this:

These feet actually look weird too; we’re used to seeing feet that are shaped like shoes.

The difference is glaring. Look at the straight black line in the first photo, it stretches from the big toe, across the ball of the foot to the heel. You can’t draw a straight line on the second photo that aligns these three important parts of your feet.

Cramping your foot’s style is not cool because that can lead to cramps and strains and lots of heel pains. If you’ve ever had foot pain or discomfort, you may think your shoes don’t have enough cushioning or that your arches have too much or too little support. While there are exceptions, these problems are generally myths perpetuated by the shoe industry that simply wants you to buy new shoes often.

Many of the best runners in the world, who consistently win marathons, run without any shoes at all. Do they have bad feet? No, they have really strong feet. They also have better knees and hips than runners who use thick padded running shoes. One medical study compared running in shoes to barefoot and fount that barefoot running demonstrated 38% lower knee torque and 54% less internal hip rotation torque. This means that running barefoot provides a much more natural motion for your joints. This notion is pretty surprising the first time you hear it, but there are a mountain of medical studies to support it.

Should you throw away your super spongy running shoes and go barefoot tomorrow? Probably not. Just like running in shoes, you need some education to do it the best way possible. Check your area for a local running club where you can learn, or look for some online videos on the subject. I’ve also got some great sources listed below which would make a good starting point.

Also, running on soft shoes might not be a good idea but research shows that running on soft surfaces is better than hard surfaces. Even though grass and dirt may have rocks and pits, these actually work to strengthen your ankles over time. That said, you may also want to consider the type of floors you have at home — you may even want to get something like soft rubber floors.

PS – Neil posted a funny story at about my first outdoor run earlier this year.

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Sources: PM&RShoe Myths,,,

October 6, 2011 at 2:00 am 7 comments

How to Buy the Right Shoes for Your Feet

Considering how much time you spend wearing shoes, how much time have you spent understanding what’s unique about your feet?

Unless you’re an avid runner or maybe work at a shoe store, you probably don’t know how to buy shoes that compliment your feet and the way you use them. It can be hard enough to find a shoe that looks good, fits on your foot and feels comfortable, but it takes even more to find a pair that fits your arch and the angle of your ankles. But there is a way.

Even if you don’t run, you can still benefit from buying the right running (or walking) shoes — especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet at work or at play.

For example, the only “running” I do is running errands, but I often wear running shoes because they’re comfortable and lightweight. With the right shoes, there is less stress on your feet, ankles, knees and hips.

When you walk, the heel of your foot will touch the ground first and as you roll your foot forward, your weight will be transferred to the front of your foot. Depending on the angle of your foot, you may be putting more weight on the inside or outside of your foot. Doing that hundreds or thousands of times a day can lead to pain and discomfort in your feet and other parts of your body.

If your hips, knees or ankles produce external rotation, you will be more likely to angle your feet as you walk (known as pronation of the foot). Your shoes can compensate for natural irregularities or make them worse and that’s why it’s important to get the right shoes.

Good shoe stores will help determine your arch type and level of pronation. Once you know your arch type and pronation, there are different shoes that will suit you. A local running shop is a good place to start, they’re generally the most knowledgeable retailers of shoes. Some websites with good fitting advice are: Road Runner Sports, Zappos, Dick’s and New Balance.

One way to determine your arch type is by standing (to put weight on your feet), then sliding your index finger under your arch. If you get your finger up to 1/2 an inch under your foot then you’ve got a low arch. 1/2 inch to 1 inch is a medium arch. More than an inch is a high arch.

The other way to determine arch type is the paper bag test. You wet your feet and stand on a paper bag. Looking at your wet footprint and the size of the gap left by your arch, you can tell if you have a low, medium or high arch. This way is pretty common, but it’s a bit more subjective than the index finger method.

To determine your pronation (ankle roll), you’ll need the help of a friend. They will stand behind you to see how your ankles behave as you walk. If your ankles stay very straight, then you have neutral pronation. If they roll slightly inward or outward then you’re considered an under-pronator. If they roll inward excessively, then you’re an over-pronator.

Another way to determine pronation is to put a used pair of your running shoes on a flat surface and see if the shoes tilt inward towards each other, or tilt outward, away from each other.

Shoes are divided into three categories for different feet type: stability, motion control and neutral. Stability shoes are for under-pronators. Motion control shoes are for severe over-pronators and perhaps obviously, neutral shoes are for neutral pronation.

Most online retailers categorize shoes into these groups. A good shoe store will be able to tell you which shoes are your type as well.

The other approach to running footwear is: barefoot. There is a popular book on running called Born to Run which suggests that we are literally born to run in our bare feet and the best runners in the world come from tribes of barefoot runners who run well into old age without injury.

For now, I think I’ll stick with my runners.

Thanks to Kristen for suggesting this secret!

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Wikipedia (Foot type), New Balance (Running Gait), Zappos, Dick’s

Photo: Jason Alley (cc)

June 7, 2010 at 5:00 am 2 comments

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