Remember, if you are starting out with these new types of shoes, do NOT do any long distance running at first. Gradually work your way up to your normal mileage. Also be wary of shoes that may market themselves as “barefoot,” but aren’t really. Nike Free shoes are a good concept, but there is nothing barefoot-like with their 7.0’s. If you go Nike Free, go with 3.0, the lower version of their Free line.
New Balance 101’s. Going back to the basics
By now you should know realize that a lot of running injuries are related to the type of shoe runners wear. Big, soft, cushion-y heel = heel striking = impact on the knees = “I have knee problems and can’t run even though I’m 35 and should be perfectly healthy.” In “What Shoes Should I Wear?” I explain why having a minimalist shoe helps maintain proper posture and form while running, thereby decreasing injury. Yes, even for a marathon it is ok to wear shoes with little cushioning.
This is a link for a pretty darn comprehensive and up to date list of minimalist shoes. It’s a very thorough list with brand names that you will recognize and ones that you won’t. It also lists data such as weight, cost, and “drop.” The drop refers to the height of the heel vs. the height of the toe off the ground. If it’s a big drop (greater than 10mm), those refer to the traditional running shoe with lots of cushioning. Medium drops are around 4-8mm and low drops are below 4mm or even 0mm. Although there has been supply for minimalist shoes from Vibram and Terra Plana, there is now a huge surge of “barefoot running” shoes or “zero drop” shoes. Merrell, New Balance, Inov-8, and even Fila have been pushing their minimalist shoes and with spring here, runners are looking for new gear.
Inov-8 Road X 222
Although the intention of these companies is to hop on the bandwagon of barefoot running, I do think that they are heading in the proper direction. So whether people are joining the movement because they think it’s cool or because they know it’s anatomically more correct to have less padding under their heels, the net effect is a positive change. I just hope it doesn’t swing back to the chunky heels of yesteryear.
Fila Skeletoes: Because four fingers is better than Five Fingers (apparently)