Before all the sports advancements such as mighty sports brands like Nike, high-tech fabrics that incorporate moisture management, before the era of personal trainers or the invention of heart rate monitors and GPS . You were a runner and like all kids you probably ran barefoot.
A growing break-away of runners, recreational joggers and an increasing number of physiologists seem to believe that running shoes do more harm than good for millions of people around the globe. With their inflexibility, thick cushioning, raised heels, it causes one to hit the ground heel- first sending the all impact of your bodyweight in every step straight into your knees and hips.
However going barefoot does require some getting used to. If one wishes to do so the process should be done very carefully and slowly. Much of the impact that used to pass through the knees and hips now gets absorbed by the calf muscles. This will result in pain and tightness but with time will build endurance in the calves. With the increase in research regarding minimalistic footwear; a number of brands have come out with designs like the Nike Free, the Newton All-Weather Trainer and the glove-like Vibram Five-fingers. The latter one I have chosen to further research for myself. Its unusual design has brought on much of my curiosity.
The Vibram Five-fingers made by an Italian shoe company has gained tremendous popularity in approximately the last six months. Many runners have seemed to have found a remedy for plantar fasciitis and pronation in the Five-fingers. The five-fingers have been designed in such a way to follow the contour and fit the shape of one’s foot. Its flexible sole and individual foot pockets aid in strengthening and stretching the muscles of the foot.
“Running barefoot allows a more natural foot action and more natural biomechanics,” says Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist with the San Diego-based American Council on Exercise.
However critics say that those who endorse the barefoot trend as a way of “getting back to basics” forget the fact that our ancestors were far smaller and in much better shape than most people are today. Large, unconditioned people need a stronger foot support and barefoot running would not be advisable in the beginning.
Personally I haven’t had a chance to fit on a pair( I would love to), so from my side although the idea of barefoot running and returning to our roots as humans seems well and good; the jury is still out on the Vibran five-fingers.
Written by: Jade Davids