Over the past several months I've been reading studies, articles, opinions, debates... about the barefoot controversy, running form, minimalist shoes, stride length and rate... whether shoes help or hurt, or barefoot running is "good" or "bad", whether the minimalist shoe is anything other than just hype and another way for the shoe companies to sell shoes...
I met with my runner Mark on Friday to take some video of him running. It's always fun to talk with runners about running, and we had some interesting conversation about running form, injuries, stride rate/length, shoes, and such. Here's what I think about the whole thing.
I'm a big believer in having a balanced overall fitness, and working on strengthening the feet, legs, hips, core as injury prevention. It would be best if we could all run around barefoot all the time during childhood, and into adulthood (and also, literally "run around all the time"). Since that isn't the world we live in today, barefoot running (or in huaraches, which is pretty darn close to barefoot) is a great tool to help us develop strength, not just muscle but connective tissue, tendons, ligaments. Barefoot running also helps running form, which is more about running economy. I think the minimalist shoes are good for gradually helping to strengthen the feet and lower legs. There's all this controversy about whether they help with midfoot or forefoot striking, for better form and less impact forces. I don't think that's the point. I think the point is that there is less shoe, less support, less construction; it's that they're not stabilizing, supporting, or holding the foot so that the foot has to actually work... So that gradually, over a period of time, years maybe, of wearing a less constructed shoe, you'll be more resistant to injury because you will be stronger. Working on form, stride length/rate, midfoot/forefoot striking.. is about running economy, being more efficient and thus being able to run faster longer.
Anyways... here's Mark just running easy over in the park: