Barefoot running: (Almost) all you need to know

May 8, 2009 at 7:45 am 3 comments

There are two absolute must read articles about the idea of (semi-) barefoot running, and how this emerging trend is influencing the athletic shoe industry.

The first is a story by Tyghe Trimble in Popular Mechanics about “the running shoe debate“:

A group of running rebels are shedding their shoes and reporting years of injury-free miles. Some ultramarathoners, biomechanics experts and doctors think that’s probably a good thing. Others go so far as to say running shoes are in fact causing injuries. Meanwhile, running shoe companies continue to precisely measure runners, and pound and flex shoes in their high-tech labs. Could shoes—and shoe companies—be covering hundreds of thousands of perfectly able bare feet? If shoes are doing damage, just what are the companies measuring?

The second article is by “lifestyle design” expert Tim Ferriss (he of “The 4-Hour Workweek” fame), who posted an incredibly interesting and knowledge-rich review of Vibram FiveFingers shoes. His article, “The Barefoot Alternative,” also explains the anatomical science of the human foot, and provides links to resources to learn more about Chi Running and the Pose Method of Running.

I myself have been running in Nike’s contribution to the almost-barefoot revolution, the Free 3.0, for over two years. When I made the switch into these glove-like slippers, my once-chronic knee and shin pains disappeared immediately. And for those with concerns about wearing something that seems so antithetical to the “ideal” running shoe (or at least as we have been led to believe), worry not! I have run multiple marathons in my Nike Free’s without any skeletal or muscular discomfort. Further, of the many dozens of people whom I have convinced to trade-in their stabilizing and cushioned athletic trainers, every single one of them swears by these svelte foot-covers as the cause for their faster race times and painless running experiences.

As much as I have enjoyed the Nike Free line of shoes, I think it may be time to be even more… Free. I just placed my order for Vibram FiveFingers. After a few months of running in them, I’ll post my own review.

play, think…
J.R. Atwood


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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. David (BarefootRunner)  |  May 11, 2009 at 1:03 am

    The Vibram FiveFingers aren’t for everybody. I’ve been a barefoot runner since 2002 and must admit I don’t like that all that much. There are other alternatives including Feelmax, Soft Star mocs,as well as Skora launching in the the next year.

  • 2. Josh  |  July 6, 2009 at 4:45 am

    J.R., you should check out Vivo Barefoot shoes for your “dress wear” as well…very foot-friendly.

  • 3. J.R. Atwood  |  July 6, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Thanks for the tips, David and Josh. Much appreciated! It’s great to know that there are a number of “barefoot” shoe styles on the market.


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Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

Play is the beginning of knowledge.

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