Natural or Minimalist Running : Is less really more?
As part of rectifying issues which contributed to my plantar fasciitis I have been researching new running shoes. Well, that’s my excuse I’m sticking to it!
Luckily for me I am a ‘neutral’ runner – I don’t over-pronate (roll in) or supinate (roll out) – and after running coaching several years back to rehabilitate from a nasty case of ITB Syndrome I now have a ‘natural’ mid-foot to fore-foot strike. As I said in my previous post, I have been running the last few years in ASICS Gel Kinsei, and have been through 3 pairs. They were a great pair of trainers for me; however they are a ‘premium’ shoe with lots of everything for everyone. Great cushioning, huge shock absorption in the heel, a design good for neutral runners, and all sorts of fancy technological improvements meant to make them better shoes.
In 2011 I stepped up my running and did a couple of marathons, both run wearing ASICS Gel Kinsei 3, without any real problems. However, looking at my last pair (over 1100km) I’ve noticed that there is virtually no wear on the heel. Why? Because of my mid-foot to fore-foot strike.
Which got me thinking: “Why do I have all this cushioning on my shoes which I don’t use, and is it slowing me down?”
Since then I have talked to a few assistants at specialist running shops as well as some internet research and have been looking into ‘natural’ or ‘minimalist’ running. I don’t mean barefoot running, I just mean running in shoes which are designed to promote or allow a ‘natural’, and more efficient, running style.
In my travels I found this great article at Competitor.com and thought I would share some of it here for those of you who are investigating natural running as well.
I’ll keep looking into this and let you know how I go, but I’ve already got a pair of natural shoes in my sights so will report back soon!
Here is the article, if it takes your fancy; the rest of the article is available through the link.
Get Going, Get Running
Minimalist running has been all the rage for a while now as research continues to emerge about its potential benefits. Furthermore, proponents of the “less is more” footwear philosophy have become more vocal about their success stories.
So what exactly constitutes minimalist running? In short, it involves wearing a running shoe that doesn’t impede upon the body’s natural biomechanics. Traditional running shoes, on the other hand, are well-cushioned, may have denser midsole materials and built-in support devices to prevent excess motion at the ankle, and usually have a high heel to toe ratio — meaning the heel is elevated (10-12 mm is common) above the toe. Recent literature indicates that these safeguards and inherent support can actually weaken the foot over time — nor have they been shown to reduce instances of injury.
Minimalist running on the other hand, promotes the natural motion of the foot. Over time, the foot gets stronger so that it can essentially support itself and act as a natural shock absorber by striking on the midfoot or forefoot. Theoretically, stronger foot muscles and lower impact rates will reduce the chance of injury.
It is not the goal of this article to persuade you one way or the other to try minimalist running. After 10 years of coaching and more than 15 years of running at an elite level, I’ve encountered scores of runners who’ve have been helped tremendously by traditional running shoes. I’ve also met numerous runners whose injury problems were seemingly cured by moving into minimalist running shoes. The decision on which shoes to wear is a personal one based on your own injury history as well as your goals.
This article will explain how to safely transition to running in minimalist shoes. In order to stay healthy, which is the number one goal, it is imperative that you properly prepare the muscles in your feet, improve your proprioception, and develop a solid foundation of strength and flexibility before transitioning to a minimalist shoe.
Read the rest of the article here: Competitor.com – Safely Transitioning To A Minimalist Running Shoe
Posted on May 21, 2013, in Blog, Natural Running, Training Tips and tagged minimalist running, natural running. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Natural or Minimalist Running : Is less really more?.