Sunday, June 27, 2010

Going Barefoot: Part 1: Would you run barefoot?

I previously discussed research that found that barefoot runners were better able to determine how to place their foot on the ground. Capitalizing on this concept, Vibram FiveFingers are running footwear designed to just about recreate the sensation of running barefoot. The “shoes” are made of a slim rubber sole with individual sections for each toe. They are like a glove.

According to the company’s website, FiveFingers “liberates you to move in a more natural, healthy way. FiveFingers stimulate the muscles in your feet and lower legs to build strength and improve range of motion.”

However, most people would see the FiveFingers as unstylish and not suitable for the office. So, once again you are back to the question of style or comfort.

Shoe styles have changed little in the past hundred years. If fact, a recently found shoe from 5,500 years ago resembles some shoes worn today. Thus, it seems unlikely that FiveFingers will quickly take off and be widely worn.

However, they could influence running and athletic shoes. People must decide if they believe this footwear is better than classic sneakers. If so, they may become the choice for running or influence changes in the way sneakers are currently made.

Ultimately, the scientific body of knowledge needs to be expanded. Shoes like this were created with only a handful of studies to back them up. Further research should be done to ensure that running barefoot, or almost barefoot, in indeed better than running in sneakers.

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Related Post:
Going Barefoot: Part 2: Can a flip-flop recreate the sensation of going barefoot?


Vibram FiveFingers. (n.d.) Retrieved June 27, 2010 from

Walker, R. (2010). Bare necessity. New York Times. Retrieved June 24, 2010 from

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