Should we run barefoot?

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04/03/2005 at 07:56
aardvark, my daughter tends to walk either forefoot or sort of placing the foot down rather than heel first, I seem to remember reading somewhere that it's because of shoes that we all start to heel strike from an early age (I used to heel strike excessively probably also due to joining the army at an early age, can't exactly march forefoot, it'd be a bit quiet!).
rb, when I first started walking barefoot (in the vivo's) I tried walking on my forefoot which actually looked like I was walking on my tip toes (my wife couldn't stop laughing) Since then I sort of place my foot down so it is mid to forefoot landing first with the heel lightly touching as if you put your heel down first and there's a small stone underneath it causes quite a lot of pain as obviously there is no give. If man was built to heel strike surely we would have excess flesh under the heel bone to absorb some shock, instead of the arch of the foot, calves and thighs used when forefoot striking? maybe the major trainer manufacturers could go into plastic surgery and insert an air cushion? I've been forefoot running for a year now, and to answer your question on slow pace I still land fore/mid foot and touch the heel down, bent legged and directly under the body.
04/03/2005 at 10:38
I believe heels are in fact very good at absorbing shock, but heelstrikers push that ability to the limit and beyond.

RB - It feels 'wrong' to me to heelstrike at any speed up or down any gradient, and I suspect other converts would agree.

Barefoot runners don't heelstrike, I'm pretty sure. If you watch kids running round at swimming pools, or in those soft play centres, they appear to have lovely forefoot technique!

There are quite a few barefoot hippies in Bath through the summer. I haven't seen any of them running though. I really don't think broken glass or dogsh*t are much of a problem. It's an issue of too much British reserve I reckon
04/03/2005 at 11:19
I live in a developing country. There are many poor people who can't afford shoes for daytime, let alone running!

In last Sundays T&T Marathon there were many barefoot runners (on hot paved surfaces). I saw about 10 in my range of 4:18. A friend who was at the finish saw a guy come in at just under 3:00 and many others in the 3-4 hour timeslot. They are all forefeet runners, not a heelstrike to be seen for the reasons already stated on this thread.

I run barefoot on the beach and have noticed that despite the cushioning from the sand I tend to forefeet, where my usual tendency in heel/mid.
04/03/2005 at 15:50
Hah, I read an article about the Vivo Barefoot shoes in the paper a couple of weeks ago but couldn't find out what they were called when I wanted to look them up.

Where do you get them from?
04/03/2005 at 16:11
The trouble with all these "barefoot shoes" is that they are very expensive. I walk outside in thin surf shoes - Teva Protons - about £30. just got my 2nd pair - 1st pair lasted a year with almost daily use and plenty of running.
04/03/2005 at 17:07
This is an interesting debate.

I'm switching to forefoot running and went to a running shop.

There was video gait analysis and I was told I still overpronate even though I land on the forefoot (unfortunately I didn't have my running shoes with me at the time). But I did try on a selection of the shoes and was told none of them were 'strong enough' for me. Is this possible? They tried to sell me another motion control/stability shoe. It looked from the video that the overpronation occured just as the heel approached the ground (my heel doesn't touch the ground at all). Maybe this looks like overpronation but is actually normal and right?

Forefoot running has certainly helped me so far although I haven't built up the miles much. I've experimented with a couple of minimalist shoes but still find my old pair of Brooks Addiction's the most comfortable to run in. I guess it's what I'm used to !

I confess that I left the shop feeling as if I'd got it wrong.... I was told I should be running heel/toe with clunky shoes and that I was mad to switch to forefoot as this wasn't natural!

Could someone reassure and advise? Oh, and if anyone can point me in the direction of a sympathetic running shop near Southampton I'm listening. All I want is an off-road shoe... surely this isn't too difficult !!

Duck Girl    pirate
04/03/2005 at 17:10
Surely for off-road stability is not the issue? I've been told to wear hardcore motion control shoes (trying to avoid orthotics) but have to stick to NB854's 'cos they're the only things narrow enough for my feet. But offroad shoes don't seem to have stability at all?
Incidentally I wear mudrocs offroad (with thick hiking socks so they fit my size 9 feet).
Duck Girl    pirate
04/03/2005 at 17:11
moor man - plimsolls for daughter?
04/03/2005 at 17:17
Bootlegger, yep, you can over-pronate when running forefoot. My problem is at toe-off, so before switching to forefoot a couple of months ago (still going well) I'd be wearing a stability shoe with support all round the heel and arch (which did little good) and almost none at the forefoot because no manufacturer seems to put much there - I had to add a home-made wedge under the ball of the foot and big toe. So now I'm in racing flats with the same wedge, running forefoot - no IT band twinges which would suggest (for me) over-pronation becoming a problem.

DG's right, by the way. Off-road shoes have little stability support (because the surface is uneven anyway).
04/03/2005 at 18:05
BL - the running shops cannot see beyond heel-to-toe. You are best off just getting a racing shoe, IMHO. I still pronate and have fairly flat feet, but I get buy - my body is getting stronger and can adapt to the stresses placed upon it.
04/03/2005 at 18:07
I'm still in 2 minds whether to take the plunge and race FLM in my 150s. For about a week I've run in the Ekidens then last night did an uptempo 12.5 miles on the road. Today it feels like someone kicked me in the calves.

When I get tired I heelstrike badly and I don't know if 13 odd miles of this round the Docklands is a good idea.
04/03/2005 at 19:33
BR: During wednesday mid-week long run my hamstrings started to tire, I was not lifting the ankles properly, the cadence decreased, the stride length started to increase......luckily I realised I was about to heel-strike (not a good idea in NB150s) and I simply slowed down to a more comfortable midfoot pace.

I need to work on my hamstring strength. Perhaps you need to as well?
04/03/2005 at 19:49
Sure I need to, I also need to get from Blackheath to the Mall in the best time possible. Just wondering which shoes I should choose. Raced a HM in them with no ill effects and have done 20 mile training runs in them.
04/03/2005 at 20:05
anyone who over pronates when forefoot running is a serious over pronator, as you lift the heel the arch should form and you should supinate. i suggest you see a podiatrist rather than a bloke in a running shop who wants to sell you shoes

Moor man - we do have big pads of fat under our heels.

I love this thread, proper debate
04/03/2005 at 20:21
I bought a pair of Vivo barefoot shoes, and they are pretty good, but I was not that impressed with the quality. There were too many hard areas which could rub. Maybe I was just unlucky, but £90 is a lot of money.

I am going to have a look at the new Diadora racers on Saturday. They look very low profile, hopefully not too stiff.

I have also looked at a pair of Asics (Tiger) retro shoes. Just a thin gum rum outsole and a leather upper. they are very like what my Uncle used to wear when he ran in the 60's. They are very flexible. Some of these retro shoes on the market look really good for running.
04/03/2005 at 20:24
Not barefoot but just enough protection for the streets. I am going to make a real attempt to toughen up my feet to race barefoot on the track this summer.
04/03/2005 at 20:32
Karl, would you consider running London in them?
04/03/2005 at 22:51
Karl - at Bluewater the Reebok store (with the full running shoe range) is next door to a fashion shoe store. The former has no shoes I would run in; the latter has 10-20prs I would run in. Retro shoes are the best thing to happen for some time.
The Asics Tiger range have many good shoes. Puma have proven to have the biggest "low profile" range. But look at Nike Street Maxcats (leather upper though), Street Milers and Jarowe waffles for the best options.

BR - You know I encourage 150 useage generally , but I would recommend the Ekidens for FLM for the reasons yuo mention. You should do a few long runs and work sessions in them to be comfortable with the weight at speed.
04/03/2005 at 23:04
How about the Nike Mayflys? Anyone run a marathon in those?
04/03/2005 at 23:43
I wouldn't even train in them - too high from the ground - requires stability - they have none. Not a good shoe, IMHO.
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