By Dr. Paula Bloom
Look at the bottoms of my feet and you’ll know that I like to be barefoot. Unless it’s very cold I don’t wear shoes in the house. Growing up in Florida I was able to be barefoot or be in sandals for most of the year.
I’ve never liked the feeling of my feet being constricted. I don’t like socks. I don’t like shoes that tie. I’ve never worn sneakers for anything other than working out. When Vibram Five Fingers came out (you know, those shoes that look like gecko-esque gloves for your feet) I bought a pair. I really like the way they feel and wore them a lot, but found that for excercise they didn’t provide enough protection. I could feel every pebble on the street.
I was talking about my shoes to my brother, an elite runner who, for example, decided to run 40 miles (in one day) to honor his 40th birthday, and he told me about the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. This book played a big role in the emergence of the barefoot running movement. My understanding is that after many years of wearing very padded shoes, we’ve weakened some of our muscles in our feet and that wearing nothing, or shoes with very minimal support, can help restore the stength.
There has been some controversy about this theory. Less support isn’t right for everyone, and people with diabetes or circulation issues should check with their doctor or podiatrist before trying this out. But for me, who likes to feel free but also likes to excercise, these new “minimal” running shoes are ideal.
I just tried a pair of Saucony Hattori Running Shoes that I bought from FootSmart. When I first got them and took them out of the box I was struck by how light they are. They look and feel a lot like a water shoe. There are two straps that help secure your foot, one across the top and one behind your heel. I find them incredibly comfortable and flexible.
I’ve now worn them a few times to my cross-training workouts which have included jogging, rowing and weight lifting. I usually like to wear my running shoes without socks but found that these slid a bit on my foot (going down in size would have been too small) so wearingthin socks held the shoes in place very well.
Overall I really like these shoes. My only complaint about them is the way they look, more specifically the white color. I do not own any white shoes or sneakers. For some reason I’ve never liked them. Other than that I really like the overall design and get lots of compliments at the gym.
Since I haven’t spent a lot of time in traditional running shoes the transition to minimal has been very easy. I wonder what it’s been like for others? Let me know!