Monday, 1 August 2011

Minimal and Pain Free - It works for Me

From what I read here and there on twitter and on the internet generally, the debate about conventional running footwear and minimalist/barefoot is going on a pace. I have to say that I was convinced about minimalist/barefoot running simply by reading Born to Run. I think a lot of people have been similarly convinced by that book. I've just about transitioned now into Vivobarefoot Neo road shoes and I have a pair of Inov-8 Bare Grip 200's that I'm going to be trail running in. As I haven't run for 3 years or more and over the last couple of months I've been just getting back into it, it's maybe an ideal time to transition and to learn more about running form at the same time.

My immediate experience of running in minimalist shoes can be summed by saying 'It Works for Me'. In the years I haven't been running, I've developed arthritis in the large joint of my left big toe. When I walk in shoes with heel lift and especially my ordinary leather brogues, the joint hurts badly after about 5 minutes. When I walk in my motion control running shoes, bought because my left arch used to weaken after a couple of miles, the joint hurts, not quite so badly but it still aches. When I run in the trainers the joint hurts less but it still aches.

Vivobarefoot Neo Shoes
When I walk or run in my Neo's I have no pain at all and also, my 'weak' arch now doesn't trouble me. I guess it's now a lot stronger than it was because the padding isn't there to support it. I seem, quite naturally to 'listen' to my feet, legs and body and make small adjustments in my running form in a way I never used to do when running in my previous cushioned, motion control shoes. I think of those years when I ran in pain nearly every day because I believed that that is what runners do - no pain, no gain. And the hours I spent with legs elevated and bags of frozen peas strapped to them to get some relief!

I believe I'm more sensible too now. Because my minimalist shoes are giving me a more 'natural' running experience and I'm listening to my body and feeling the ground a lot more, I'm not over extending myself as I used to do.

Inov-8 Bare Grip 200
I do believe that my minimalist shoes actually encourage me to run in a more natural fashion simply because it's impossible to run 'unnaturally', i.e. with a heel strike. They necessitate a mid foot or fore foot strike. I know that lots of people are happy with their conventional running shoes and I've no axe to grind on the issue at all. I'm simply confirming that what I read in Born to Run, up to now, is being borne out by my own experience. So, running in minimalist shoes works for me. Maybe it might work for you. My minimalist shoes are expensive but for me, they are worth every penny because I'm enjoying my running much more than I did in the past. And I'm saving on frozen peas!

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