May 9, 2014
Are Vibrams the Answer to your Running Woes?

Over the past several years, the popularity of barefoot running and minimalist shoes has grown widespread throughout the fitness industry in the United States.  Made popular by Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run, the claim was that humans in the past naturally ran barefoot and placed more of their landing pressure on the balls of their feet.  It wasn’t until the introduction of the modern running shoe where runners started to adapt a midfoot or heel strike method due to the extra cushioning and raised sole of the running shoe.   Today, more and more participants in fun runs and races are reverting back to forefoot style by passing on their Nikes and Brooks running shoes for their Vibram FiveFinger shoes or other derivatives. 

To capitalize on the “barefoot” running craze, Vibram marketed their product claiming their Five-Fingered shoes helped strengthen muscles in the foot and reduced foot injuries in comparison to other running shoes out in the market.  Unfortunately, that claim was false.  In a recent article from Runner’s World, Vibram agreed to settle a class action lawsuit worth $3.75 million on their false claims.  So, if you are looking to buy Vibrams or already have a pair hoping the shoes would cure your feet problems like Plantar Fasciitis or increase your running pace, they are not the answer.   

So what is the best running method?  Researchers still don’t know what the best technique is.  The argument of Forefoot vs. Midfoot vs. Heel-Strike is still to be determined.  While many proponents of barefoot running claim humans evolved to run without shoes on their forefoot, many of the elite long distance runners are actual heel-strikers.

Running can be a sport of joy and Zen with the proper technique to stay injury-free.  Whether you’re just starting or have been doing it for a while now, I recommend seeing a podiatrist for a gait analysis and running shoe recommendations. 

Written by Nelson Lau

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