Want to Run Better...Ditch Your Nikes

So before that fateful day that Nike founder Bill Bowerman invented the thickly cushioned running shoes in 1972, the world ran barefoot. Or as close to it as possible with thin soles.  But the new shoes haven't done us any good. According to Sports Science, "Running barefoot is associated with a substantially lower prevalence of acute injuries of the ankle and chronic injuries of the lower leg in developing countries, but well-designed studies of the effects of barefoot and shod running on injury are lacking. Laboratory studies show that the energy cost of running is reduced by about 4% when the feet are not shod. In spite of these apparent benefits, barefoot running is rare in competition, and there are no published controlled trials of the effects of running barefoot on simulated or real competitive performance." Here's a video of the difference between the Vibram Five Fingers and a typical running shoe. So far the evidence isn't all that good.  Sports Science also found that between 20-80% of regular runners are plagued with injuries every year which include ankle sprains and plantar fasciitis.  But the jury is still out on whether running barefoot is actually better...but interestingly enough, runners that ran in cheap shoes had much fewer injuries than those with expensive ones. So your expensive Nike's aren't doing you a lot of good.  If you decide to try barefoot running, Wired has some tips.  For instance; start slow with nothing over a 1/4 mile with a long gradual buildup, your stride will be different...let it be, run straight up, strengthen your calves and ankles, and run on soft ground first to give your feet time to harden up. It's also possible to BodyRock while barefoot.  Especially when the garage is too cold and my kitchen is much more welcoming, its been a good alternative.  Go slow at first to make sure that your feet aren't going to slide out from under you.  

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