Over the past number of years, the traditional running shoe has drastically changed and evolved. What were once leather based, rubber soled, very solid and consequently very heavy sneakers have transformed into more synthetic and extremely lightweight shoes that allow the runner to feel more natural and less weighed down. The most interesting part of this is the way that the sneaker has transformed technologically. It is imperative that, when running, your feet, legs and entire skeletal and muscular structure are supported. If this doesn’t happen, injury is inevitable and long-term pain is just part of the routine. There are so many forces that are at work when we run. Impact, stride, gait, and environment all play very important roles during a run. Without proper shoes to help create a balance and also a buffer, possible long term negative health effects can occur.
Most recently, we have seen a rise in the number of a more stripped down but highly technological running shoe, known as minimalist running shoes. These shoes provide the most direct contact with the ground possible while running and, allowing for a natural and dynamic style, while still providing protection from rocks and other things in your path. Although the isn’t any overwhelming research either way about whether this running style actually has any health benefits, it is clear that many many runners have taken up this cause and run with it, so to speak.
Let’s take a closer look at two different minimalist running shoes, the Fila Skeletoes and the Vibram Five Fingers.
These lightweight runners are sleek in design, are waterproof, and offer a heavy duty sole for extra protection against unknown and potentially rough terrain. They are fully synthetic and have many mesh accents, allowing for full airflow, as well as water flow when being used in the water.
· EZ Slide design allows for easy slip on and pull off use. You won’t need to push each toe into its proper slot. With EZ Slide, you simply slide your foot in and the shoe does the rest.
· Substantial rubber sole
· Easy to use strap
· More economical than some other minimalist running shoes
· Very lightweight
· The synthetic fabric wears very quickly on the top and sides of the shoe
· Skeletoes run small
· Not as substantial as other brands
VIBRAM FIVE FINGERS
These ultra-lightweight minimalist toe shoes also have heavy duty Vibram soles which offer the best protection from rocks and other debris you will encounter on the trail or on the road. They have a fully synthetic XS Trek outsole to absorb shock and a speed lacing system which allows for easy pull on and tightening.
· Extremely lightweight
· Patented Vibram soles
· Provide an ample amount of grip
· Sizes are not accurate
· No loops for easy slide on
· Difficult to put each toe in, one at a time
· Reports of the sole being a bit too thin
Minimalist running is a great way to realign your entire skeletal system. Rather than wearing traditional running shoes which are overly padded and designed to restructure the way our foot falls on the ground below, minimalist running shoes relies on the body’s natural ability to absorb shock and properly extend all necessary tendons, ligaments and muscles which help keep the body in proper alignment.