For almost two years I have been running and walking with minimalistic shoes. And I couldn’t be happier.
The big deal about this shoes is that due to their very thin sole, your feet are capable of feeling all the small details that the floor you are stepping in has. This is very important because we need to “know” the type of surface we are walking. This is the principle of proprioception that is “the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement”. In other words, the feet send all the information about the floor and how the rest of the body should be positioned. In addition of that, by running barefoot, or almost, the impact of the step is absorbed by the different bones, muscles and tissues of the bodies. When we run with thicker soles, our feet tend to step harder in order to feel what they have under them, creating a harder impact on the body that goes directly from the floor to the heels, and up to the knees and hips.
Before using them I use to have a lot of knee, hip and lower back pain. Since then I don’t, and also I have recovered most of my previous speed (which want’s so much, I have to admit). Having said that, I don’t think that everybody should go nuts and start running barefoot or with minimalistic shoes. It demands a lot of training, walking before running, getting the tissues used to the new system and lots of patience. Here are some basics:
First you should train how to stand, walk, squat and jump. During many weeks, not much more should be done. You can comb ine this learning with your normal running, even with thicker soles.
Once you have been walking, squating and jumping barefoot or with minimalistic shoes, it is time to start training how to run: agood traight posture, a steady pace of 180 steps per minute and a relaxed attitude.
Of course, there is a number of options available in the market when choosing a pair of minimalistic shoes. Also there are different levels, from hardcore barefoot, to those who prefer an in between approach. Here are some of the examples:
More models come every month, but the three big barefeet (Vivobarefoot, Vibram and Merrel) are the ones to check closely when it comes to this type of running.
Here is a very interesting video with the basics of barefoot running. Is a good start point, but we recommend a lot more of investigation, practise and, if you can, training with experts in order to get the best of this running style without getting injured in the way.