Thursday, July 1, 2010

Why Run Barefoot?

March 24. Coach Ige of Mizuno graced our office and gave some pointers about running. He talked about proper form, heart rate zones, running gait, and the different type of shoes such as cushion, motion control, and stability. One lesson that I was most curious was about the 3 different foot strike patterns and the collision force that it made on our bodies. Coach Ige told us that it is best to land on the fore-foot compared to mid-foot and on the heel

On the same day I've re-evaluated how my feet landed by taking a closer look at my photovendo pics. Realized that I was doing a rear-foot (heel) strike. This has prompted my quest to find means on how to change my foot strike pattern. In my search I've learned that our footwear somehow alters how we strike the ground. This is due to the thickness of the heel of modern shoes. Every time we land on the ground, we prematurely land on our heels first thus encourages rear-foot strike over mid- and fore-foot.

I looked into several shoes that promotes fore-foot and mid-foot strike. I bumped into a handful: Newton Running, New Balance MR790 and MT100, Mizuno Wave Universe, Puma Cabana Racer, ASICS Piranha SP, and ASICS Gel-Hyper Speed. All of these shoes have low (thinner) heel thus it'll be easier and more natural to land on your mid or fore-foot. I was drawn in getting a pair of Newton Performance Trainer because of its Action/Reaction Technology that helps a runner transition in becoming a fore-/mid-foot striker. Only thing that held me back was the price (P7k+)

Also learned that there are several running methods that will help us runners change the way our feet lands on the ground: Pose, Chi, and Evolution. Pose uses gravity to propel you, it focuses on hamstring contraction and forefoot landing.  Chi uses gravity as well by leaning forward and focuses more on midfoot landing.  Lastly Evolution works on hip extension to propel you and same with Pose, it trains you to land on forefoot.  All of these techniques have their own merits and introduces a number of drills in order to prepare your feet and leg muscles for a fore-/mid-foot strike. Videos can be found and downloaded from the interweb if you are interested. Remember, Google is your friend. But none of the three appealed to me because I am a lazy cat.  I wanted an approach where it will be more natural for me to shift or rather will force me to change my foot strike.

Found the answer.  Run barefoot.

Try running barefoot and you'd instantly and effortlessly land on the balls of your feet.  Because you have to.  If you land on your heels, the impact is just too great it will immediately come up to your knees.  It teaches the body to adopt.  A word of caution - tread softly and carefully.  Our feet has already been accustomed to wearing shoes, feet coffins to some, for many years that running barefoot is like learning to run again for the first time.  Start running on something soft first - grass, soil, or on clay (oval track) before you work your way up on running in asphalt.  I know its really fun because you'd feel like a child again but don't take in tons of miles on your first few attempts.  Do not be tempted.  You'll only end up with painful muscle cramps, if you are lucky, or get injured in the process.  You have to condition your body and muscles first before you start piling up your weekly mileage.  Allow your feet and leg muscles to learn slowly from the experience

Then there's a problem in finding a suitable location where it will be safe for unshod runners besides the track.  Instead of going all-out barefoot, there are minimalist shoes available in the market: Nike Free 3 (yes, v3), Terra Plana, Feelmax, and Vibram Five Fingers.  Let me get the facts out first, these are not transition shoes.  There is no such thing, in my opinion.  You still need to run barefoot to know your optimal running form.  Then grab yourself a pair so that you'll have protection from possible dangers on the road and at the same time have enough ground feedback.  Running barefoot and running on minimalist shoes though biomechanically the same but are totally different.  I am currently using Feelmax Kuusa for my runs
More about barefoot running and minimalist shoes in the coming days
For now, run safe and always smile.

An article about barefoot running in Runner's World (Feb 2010)
(images: www)


Jeff said...

ayos sa brand ah. feelmax, btw, added your site to my links page

dencios said...

im learning though im a leisure runner. see at run to read on 15th!

Daves said...

hi dencios, thanks for dropping by. see you on the 15th

chicharunner said...

saan po nakakabili ng Feelmax Kuusa??? ty

Daves said...

jayson, got mine online. you may want to try buying one thru amazon

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