Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Friday, September 11, 2009

More on running and running shoes

The best shoes are the ones Mother Nature gave you

Jason asked in the comments to my review of my favorite running shoes:

"As Salaamu Alaikum Mushtaq,

What makes a good running shoe in your opinion? After Navy boot camp I really enjoyed running. But the only shoes I've felt comfortable running in were Nike Air pegasus. Why are the "normal" running shoes bad? My step-son has wide feet as well and we almost always buy him NewBalance since they are the only shoes we have found to fit his feet. Maybe we'll try the Wu Shu since he destroys shoes anyway maybe it will save us money also, insha'Allah."
This is a good question and one that deserves a more thoughtful answer than can be given in the comments section, so I decided to make a full post on the subject.

The short answer is that a good running shoe should allow the foot to be used as nature intended. That is to say, when you run to "ball of foot" strike rather than heel strike as almost all modern running shoes force you to do.

Take a look at the video below and you can see the natural stride of a human being and the stride that modern running shoes get you into.
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A good running shoe should also allow you to feel the ground and allow your foot to conform to irregularities of the terrain. They should be very light weight and offer little to no support. They should also "breathe", canvas being a good material for this.

Personally I don't do much track running. I much prefer trail running, so a shoe that can handle running over dirt, gravel, rock, puddles, and the like is a necessity for me.

Probably, the best shoe is no shoe at all. after that the vibram five fingers gets my vote. Then I would go with the Vivo Barefoot. The big problem with both of these though is that they cost a lot! I don't fancy dropping between $125 and $200 for a pair of shoes.

So that's the long and the short of it, at least for me.

There are a few good sites on barefoot/minimalist running;
Barefoot Ted's Adventures
Barefoot Concepts
Barefoot Running

10 comments:

Edwin Voskamp said...

Vibram Five Fingers are $75-90, depending on the model.

I bought the Sprint model (with the three adjustable velcro straps) at a 30% off REI sale with some of their rebate. And, being in Portland, have no sales tax, so I ended up paying about $45 for the pair.

And I can't recommend them enough. The strengthening effect upon the muscles in my feet and ankles is amazing.

Mushtaq Ali said...

The Vibram KSO, which I think is the one I would recommend for anything more than casual running in the park indeed lists for US $85. When I wrote out those prices I was thinking of the new model Vibram is coming out with this month, the KSO Trek, which I believe will be listing for US $125.

I think the five fingers is one of the very best shoe ideas that anyone has come up with, but they have had some durability issues, in the past. I got the very first model they came out with (that was a bit more than four years ago I think) and they did not hold up well for the price. Vibram seems to have addressed this in their newest models, and I can't wait to get my feet in some Treks, but cheap is also good.

Mo'in said...

Dear Mushtaq,

Thank you so much for sharing these recent posts on proper running. Today's video is certainly illuminating!

For a longtime runner, I'm certainly convinced to go natural!

Thanks1

mo'in

Anonymous said...

After 39 years I have realized that arches are equally as important as all the basics.

My back is all but ruined for not taking this into account.

Nike has a special design for original Americans but you have to be a card carrying member of a tribe, last time I checked.

(They forgot about the other original Americans.)

I can only work for any length of time on dirt. Put me on concrete and it's over in a couple of hours.

jasonencke said...

As Salaamu Alaikum Mushtaq,

Ramadan Mubarak to you as well. Thank you for responding to my questions. This is very interesting information. I'm excited to try running this way. I'm a little worried that after so much time running "heel strike" first I have a lot of work to do. But it makes sense especially after seeing that video. Thanks again!

Edwin Voskamp said...

Mushtaq, I don't know yet about durability: I've worn a pair of Sprint for a bit over six months every day. I put well over a thousand miles on them on sidewalks and roads. They still hold up fine.

I've worn them hiking and I don't find the occasional stone and such a problem, though once in a while painful. I am indeed curious about the Trek, but am worried they are getting too much like a shoe.

Edwin Voskamp said...

Mushtaq, I don't know yet about durability: I've worn a pair of Sprint for a bit over six months every day. I put well over a thousand miles on them on sidewalks and roads. They still hold up fine.

I've worn them hiking and I don't find the occasional stone and such a problem, though once in a while painful. I am indeed curious about the Trek, but am worried they are getting too much like a shoe.

jasonencke said...

I have to say thank you again Mushtaq for all the information. My wife recently bought some Vibram Five Fingers after seeing them on your blog and she loves them. She has been struggling for some time to find a shoe that didn't hurt her feet and make her toes go numb. She's been struggling to exercise because her feet hurt so much after a short walk. Now her feet are pain free after a long walk. We went for a hike in a local park yesterday and the only thing that bothered her feet was the hot asphalt on the trek to the car from the trail. I have to also mention that my wife is legally blind and her depth perception is poor and these shoes offer some protection but allow her to feel the ground and keep her balance much better and avoid obstacles much easier on her own. I ordered some Wu Shu's for my son and myself. My son's shoes are on backorder and I'm waiting on the right size shoe for my right foot (they sent the left foot in the correct size and the right foot a half size too small) but I like the left shoe so far, lol.

Mushtaq Ali said...

Assalaamu alaykum Jason,

That is very good news indeed. Insh'allah your wife will continue to progress with her five fingers. The ability to move over the ground as if you were barefoot can make all the difference in the world in a case like hers. As she adapts and builds more strength in her foot muscles don't be surprised if you have to work to keep up with her :-)

I can really relate to her needing to be able to feel the ground. I was blind (for about 3 years more or less) until about this time last year when I had my sight restored surgically. If I could not feel the ground I would tend to bump into things a lot.

jasonencke said...

So my wife and I are on the treadmills at the YMCA last night. My wife is wearing her Vibram Five Fingers which she loves because they don't hurt her feet like "running" shoes. One of the employees comes over and tells her she can't wear those shoes in the fitness center. When my wife asks why not he says because they have no padding. I started laughing because that is one of the points of wearing them. I hope we can convince them to allow her to wear them or we're canceling our membership since regular running shoes hurt her feet, hips and back. They do have a policy against sandals, flip flops and open toed shoes, which I understand for safety reasons. But Vibrams although different don’t fit the description of their policy not to mention in her case at least running shoes are more dangerous since they cause her toes to go numb.