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Question: Do running shoes actually do more harm than good?

Asked by lopo5 4 years ago

6 answers

I just read the book "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall, which has been a bestseller and suggests that running shoes may actually do more damage than good to runners. Is this true? Should I be considering switching to shoes with very little cushioning like the Vibram five or even running barefoot?

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Personal Training, Cardio Training, Running

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Ambition 4 years ago

I am currently reading the same book and it makes for interesting reading. The Tarahumara are noted historically for their long distance running as were the Apache who also occupied the area around the Sierra Madres. Switching from traditional running shoes to 4 Fingers or Vibram rubber soles will without question cause injury. I have seen this happen with several patients at our Clinic. Making the move to 5 Fingers should be gradual and progressive as our musculoskeletal system will take time to adapt to the new demand placed upon it. I can say from experience that running in 5 fingers is a tremendously liberating experience and my running experience has improved. The problem we have is that all our lives we have worn shoes and we have become accustomed to it, if had never worn them then we would probably have avoided a whole catalogue of problems and injuries. I would recommend in conjunction with Vibram that you work with a Corrective Exercise Specialist to work on balancing out your musculoskeletal system otherwise you may never get the chance to enjoy the freedom of barefoot running without injury

Sources: http://www.ambitionfitness.com or email Jeff@ambitionfitness.com

Answer Comments

Jesko 4 years ago

I suppose that running on sand would be a good way to start off gradually?

vibramfivefingers 3 years ago

Do you like vibram five finger shoes, now it is very popular and has many fans, if you like it, don't wait but choose it.

Other answers (5)

LizWM 4 years ago

Ambition is right. Running barefoot is truly liberating and I think strengthens your feet as well as other muscles that aren't usually worked as much because your body has to learn a different way of running. However, I would never recommend running barefoot in the places people normally run like concrete sidewalks (which shouldn't be where you run anyways) and asphalt. Going from wearing nice cushioned running shoes to no shoes at all is a bad idea in and of itself but going from running shoes to no shoes on concrete is just asking for it. You will end up will all sorts of problems. If you're going to run barefoot, better do it on sand like on a beach. That's the only place I'd ever recommend as a safe place to run barefoot (unless glass is allowed on your beach). Trail running, although you must be a lot more careful not to trip or strain your ankle, is a good place to run with shoes, especially if you are going to switch to less cushioned shoes. Be aware that you will feel everything though- every root, twig, stone... everything but trail running is more fun in my opinion anyways than running on concrete and asphalt and helps save your knees. Runners tend to get a lot of knee or other joint problems when they run on concrete and asphalt. I have been running since the age of 9 when my dad first took me running. He did everything wrong: ran on concrete instead of grass around our neighborhood, would get out of it for a couple months due to work or something and then go hit the pavement for a 2-4 mile run without intervals (keep in mind he was overweight and over 40 yrs old), buy the cheap Walmart shoes, etc. and now, he wonders why he has such terrible knees. Luckily even at a young age, I was reading up on running techniques and although they were not as advanced as today, I still knew to run in the grass or at the beach, try to get good quality shoes, not over-do it if I got back into it after not being able to run for a while, etc. I know it's what has saved my knees and prevented other injuries! Too bad dad didn't listen to me. I guess I can't really blame him since I probably wouldn't listen to my young daughter either about stuff like that! (He started listening when I started college for Exercise Science but even back then he had already developed knee problems so it was a little too late).

So yes, do everything gradually when it comes to running, and try running barefoot at the beach or somewhere where there's sand- it's really incredible and quite a workout, especially for the calves! And yes, Jesko, it is definitely a great way to start off gradually!

SilverHand 4 years ago

Just my 2 cents in...Vibram 5-fingers are great for many outdoor activities, specially if blacktop, hot stone, or heavy gravel surfaces make barefooting just abit unreasonable.

Starting out slow can be difficult on your own depending on your personality, so I would suggest finding a barefooting club, or group activities where multiple fitness levels are accomadated such as Walking Mountain Yoga. Both Run Bare and Vibram 5 Fingers have facebook pages with discussions and updates on local events. Run Bare is a great website to check out on how to learn to "run barefoot with no injuries" or atleast learn more on the growing barefoot movement. Have fun!

Sources: http://www.vibramfivefingers.com
http://www.runbare.com
http://www.walkingmountain.org/index.htm

jarodchapman 4 years ago

I have not read that particular book although I have read an article about it's controversial topic matter . I am a half marathon runner and know that without my very expensive running shoes that my 40 year old arches and achilles would take a severe battering . the main issue is the musculoskeletal imbalances from always wearing shoes to not . I have massaged many people over the years with orthopaedic issues , it takes the body a lot of time and specialist care to correct imbalances , so I do not recommend everyone changing to Vibram . That said , I love running bare foot on a beach as the soft sand gives support under the arches and it's a great leg workout alongside a fab underfoot pedicure .

MaryDornerStephens 4 years ago

I am no runner, that said, I want to share an experience which is still causing me to suffer. I walked on the beach, on hard and soft sand for several hours a day for about eight months five years ago. I was not able to walk at all one morning. It turns out that my arches are particularly high. Without the support of tied shoes, my metatarsal arched began to shift. I went to a man who is a specialist at making insoles. 500 dollars later I could walk but still with discomfort. I pass along what he said to me: "No one should ever walk or run on the beach barefooted. We all have different feet, granted, but all foot styles need need need the support of a shoe that ties...such as a good tennis shoe." Brian Wiggen, Asheville, NC. I also have done much therapy on folks, who have various bodily problems. It seems to me that so many problems are associated with the non wearing of supportive shoes, or the wearing of foolish shoes or flip flops. Considering the numerous problems you could begin to have, it does not seem worth the risk of wearing improper or no shoes. The best thing to do is to consult someone trained, such as a podiatrist, before making such a decision...especially since the folks below have blown off a lot of advice without any specific facts about your body. good luck!!!!

scott39 4 years ago

yes they can do if you have flat feet yes i ues the vibram five yes there good but dont run berefood because you may cut you feet on ground why run any way we dont need it to be fit i have been working out for over 20year now and i never run any were my resting heart rat is 47bpm this with only doing weight in gym cv suck but the Vibram five are good to work out in the gym because there good for swiss ball work and dead lift

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