While the jury may still be out on the benefits and risks of barefoot running shoes, it will never meet to hear the case against Vibram USA.
The company, which makes FiveFingers running shoes, has agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging Vibram made false and unsubstantiated claims regarding the health benefits of its products. Though they settled the case, according to court documents, “Vibram expressly denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing alleged in the Actions, and neither admits nor concedes any actual or potential fault, wrongdoing or liability.”
One of the first pieces of advice I give any new runner is in regards to shoes. I tell anyone who’s just starting out to go to a running specific store and to get fitted for a proper running shoe.
Many assume the name brand they got off the shelf at a major sports store is sufficient, but they are not. A properly fitted shoe can make or break a running career. One of the leading causes of running injury is due to improper footwear. Most runners accept this truth about shoes early on. However, one thing we don’t do is focus on the proper footwear when we’re not running.
I fall into the category of wearing expensive shoes while I run, yet I walk around in flimsy flip flops the rest of the day. Many office professionals spend the majority of their day in dress shoes. They look great, but may be the root cause of your next running injury- especially high heels.Of all the flawed footwear, high heels may be the most risky choice for a runner. Research points to the fact that runners who wear high heels may be at greater risk for foot, knee, or back injury.
High heels are honestly not a great shoe for anyone. They are the number on cause of ingrown toenails, they can lead to lower back pain, hip soreness, osteoarthritis, hammertoes, plantar fasciitis, dislocated toes, calluses, joint pain, bunions, and sprained ankles.
When a runner puts on their heels, she’s more likely to experience these problems and then some, as her feet are going through additional strain.
by Kelsey Murray
I recently started training for a half-marathon, and in preparation to do so, I asked a friend to watch me run and critique my form. My friend, who has been running for more than 10 years, told me there were a few flaws in my technique and recommended that I look into what a proper form should be.
So far, I’ve gathered that I need to stand up straighter while running, hold my shoulders back and down, and take the proper length strides. But what else can a runner do to improve their stride?
Don’t land on your heels. Making your first contact with the ground with your heels is great for power walking, but when you are running, it can cause pain in your back or knees. “When you walk, you keep one foot in contact with the ground, while running has a moment of weightlessness in the stride,” said running coach Alex Figuerosa. Instead, you should try to land on your midsole or forefoot, which allows your muscles to absorb more of the shock from your landing.
Brad is a USA Track and Field certified coach who specializes in teaching first timers how to run. You can find his free running program, as well as articles on health and fitness at his website, www.bradgansberg.com.
New runners have so much to learn. When I started back in 2004, I made every mistake in the book. I had no idea what I was doing so the process of learning to run was much harder than it needed to be.
Over the years, I have learned many things that would have been helpful to understand when I was first getting started. While I cannot turn back time and help my 2004 self, perhaps I can offer you a few ideas to help smooth the path as you first learn how to run.
1. Buy new sneakers.
Running sneakers have a limited life. Don’t even think about using the old pair in your closet. Go to a running store, ask their advice, and buy what they suggest. You have no idea how important it is to have a new pair of running sneakers that are properly fit to your foot and running style. Using an old pair is just asking to hurt.
When deciding where to workout, dedicated runners have a plethora of options. Between barefoot running, trailblazing, asphalt, concrete and the local track, it can be difficult to decide what choice is right for you.
Dr. Charles A. Mutschler, DPM is a medical director and podiatrist at Advanced Footcare of Miami. As an expert in the field, he acknowledges the fact that all types of running surfaces can provide both risks and benefits to the runner.
Running on sand, grass and dirt trails are all very common practices. Although running on these surfaces provides incredible shock absorption and muscle development, the uneven ground can contribute to slips, trips and falls. Runners who are not accustomed to the irregular terrain may find themselves straining and spraining the muscles in their feet and ankles.
I was out running one morning about two years ago. It was a rare morning where I didn’t have music pumping in my ears. As I was approaching a turn, I began to hear an odd rhythm. It almost sounded like duck feet smacking the ground. As I got closer, I saw another runner coming towards me. The sound was coming from her shoes. She was wearing what looked like gloves on her feet as she trekked along. This was the first time I’d ever seen anyone run in the Vibram Fivefinger shoes. Flash forward two years and these shoes and the minimalist movement have grown tremendously popular. However, as with most popular things, it’s not all necessarily a good thing. There’s quite a bit of controversy over these shoes and the proper role they play in the sport of running.
There’s lots of debate over the safety of minimalist running and barefoot running. There are also a lot of grey areas in the subject. While some shoes are minimal in the support they offer, they are not equivalent to a barefoot or even a Vibram. However, all members of the pro party tend to support the general theory that the stronger the foot, the better the runner will run.
Vibrams (pronounced “VEE-Brims”) claim that they allow the runner to land on their forefoot which results in optimum balance, improved stability, lighter impact, and increased propulsion. The Vibrams also claim to help correct form problems along with strengthening and stimulating muscles in the feet and lower legs.
So with such positive claims what’s the objection to this product? First Gear running shoe store owner, Gary Gregory, sees the Vibrams as a form of barefoot running and explained why he will not carry the product.
“Barefoot running is too radical of an idea from the norm, it’s too big of a departure and too big of a change for people who have been running in shoes for years.”
Usually when people pick out a pair of shoes, they go for two things: the right size and a look that they like. While this may work for a sexy pair of heels or some casual sneaks to wear with jeans, when it comes to fitness shoes, they aren’t a fashion statement: they are a piece of fitness equipment.
Just like when you invest in equipment for your home gym, everyone’s needs are different. Someone who works out in a gym is going to need different shoes than someone who prefers to run trails in the sunshine, or someone who prefers a game of pick up basketball is going to have different needs than someone who taking a Zumba class.
There are a lot of different kinds of shoes you can choose to workout in, but choosing the right type can mean the difference between a comfortable, effective workout, or pain and overuse injuries.
This guest post comes from Paige Corley, a Program Director at the Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge.
The question of replacing your exercise shoes is a toughie and varies depending on which activity you are doing, how often and at what intensity. Honestly, I don’t have an exact answer for you, but here are some things to consider when deciding if your shoes are in need of replacing:
- Active Individuals: (running/walking 3-4 times a week; lower mileage) your running/walking/cross-training shoes should be replaced at least a couple of times per year.
- Running Enthusiasts: If you are an avid runner or walker (exercise more than 4 times a week) you might need to replace them every 3-4 months.
- Endurance Runners: If you are training for a triathlon, half- or full-marathon you will probably need to replace them every 2-3 months. (more…)
January is the prime time for fitness fads as people resolve to get in better shape and lose weight for the year ahead. The latest fad for runners? Barefoot running, a fitness style that lets your body adapt to your natural gait instead of conforming to your running shoes.
Barefoot running shoes have been gaining popularity in recent months, as they are designed to re-create a the natural sensation of running “barefoot” on man-made surfaces like concrete and asphalt.
Robert A. Kornfeld, Founder of the Institute for Integrative Podiatric Medicine, wrote for the Huffington Post that barefoot running shoe manufacturers believe that “the human foot, unimpeded by synthetic surfaces and restrictive running shoes, should function at its best.”
Ahnu is a company that’s committed to more than making great products, they’re also dedicated to positioning themselves to serving a greater good. Not only does the company support organizations like The Conservation Alliance and the Breast Cancer Fund, they also adhere to rigorous ethical manufacturing standards. These shoes are sweat-shop free, but how will I feel sweating it out on the street?
The Shasta by Ahnu is designed for cross-terrain running, meaning both road running and trail running, which sounds perfect for braving the wilds of the Willimasburg waterfront. The box tells me that the shoe’s “Neutral Positioning System” promises to keep the the foot “balanced in the center of the shoe to encourage biomechanics efficiency on varied terrain.”
For this review, I can’t follow my typical three-run template, because the Ahnu Shastas took a little longer to break in than the other shoes I reviewed. However, the pay-off was well worth the extra work. The Shastas have fairly stiff soles, which translated into serious arch support. The upper part of the shoe breathes nicely, keeping my feet from feeling sweaty.
If you’re shopping for new running shoes, more expensive doesn’t always equal more value. That’s good news for you and your checkbook, but don’t think you can go get a knockoff brand for $25 either. A team of Scottish scientists found no difference between $150 shoes and the relatively cheaper $80 versions. Not cheap, but comforting news nonetheless.
Lead researcher Rami Abboud, director of the Institute of Motion Analysis and Research at the University of Dundee, has some simple advice for you: Make sure the shoes fit!
“My advice to runners is to make sure that, first, the footwear fits your feet, and that if you are paying more, that doesn’t mean that you’re getting something better,” says Abboud.