I just finished the book “Born to Run” (great read BTW). There’s a quite a bit about nutrition, anthropology, running, and running science.
In the book there is a chapter focused on the footwear that this tribe in Mexico (Tarrahumarra) wears when they run. It’s pretty much a tire tread with some leather lacing made into a sandal. In this chapter the author goes on about how the foot was “designed” and how this tribe doesn’t get hurt in part due to their footwear. Lannana at Stanford is also cited, explaining that they do a lot of running barefoot and that his athletes are better for it. This ended up being one of the reasons Nike researched and created the Free.
The author then goes into how before Bowerman created the first “modern” running shoes (the Cortez), there were very little injuries in terms of plantar facisitis, Achilles injuries, etc. The extra cushioning, support, heel, etc, created an “unnatural” stride that caused more injuries. I could cite more, but I think you get the idea.
I’ve read several articles about minimalist shoes and the reasoning and results behind them. A lot of it makes sense and gets me wondering why more people haven’t jumped on to this theory. I know that Lannana does it, as does the coach at Kansas State; I even incorporate a little into my team’s training in terms of barefoot exercises. Every now and then I’ll do a running on the infield barefoot and I immediately feel faster and run better.
If minimalist shoes like the Free and Vibram 5 Fingers are the way “to get back to our beginnings,” why don’t we see more people using these shoes? Is there something to the modern running shoe that still allows us to perform better? Is it something in between? Are we too afraid to try something “new” and make changes?
This theory has perplexed me…I’d love to hear more of what you guys think about this.
EDIT: I should add, most of this refers to distance running, but I don’t see how it can’t apply to sprinting also. Most speed work is done in spikes anyways, which is a pretty minimalist shoe.