Barefoot running? It’s a trend that’s gaining traction
By Brittany Anas
Thought you needed a pair of sturdy hiking boots to help propel you up the mountain or a pair of running shoes to go for a trail run? Think again. Sandals and minimalist shoes are gaining some footing this summer and athletes are wearing the light-as-a-feather footwear to hike and run. One of the newest innovations aiding “barefoot running” is Bedrock Sandals that are a mere 3 ounces and act as a second skin on your foot.
First, some cautionary notes about wearing the lighter footwear when working out: Your pedicurist might cringe, and you should opt for the support of a shoe if your ankles are prone to twisting or spraining. (Also, cover your tootsies if you’re hiking or running in an area where you know there’s a lot of snakes).
Here’s a primer on barefoot running: It’s actually a practice that dates way back to the Ancient Greeks. But, the technique has picked up in popularity, especially after the 2009 best-selling book Born to Run (Amazon, $12.10) made a case for barefoot running. Organizers of the New York Marathon a few years ago noticed a slight uptick in those running barefoot, though they still represent a small number of overall runners.
Proponents of barefoot running make the case that the more natural form helps reduce the risk of ankle sprains and plantar fasciitis and promotes a more natural running style.
But, the American Podiatric Medical Association cautions that barefoot running may lead to injuries such as puncture wounds and increased stress on lower extremities, and that research is still ongoing when it comes to the risks and benefits of the practice.
Minimalist and barefoot-inspired footwear options come close to the barefoot experience, while providing the foot with a second skin of sorts.
Here are some options that mimic the barefoot experience:
Earthquake sandals V2: Ancient designs meet modern-day technology in these Bedrock sandals. A size 9 weighs just 3 ounces. The sandal comes with an elasticized rubber heel made from recycled bike tubing. (Bedrock Sandals, $54)
Bodyglove women’s minimalist shoe: Perfect for running on the beach, while protecting your feet from sharp objects or weighing you down. A system in the shoe also drains any water that sneaks in the shoe. (Sports Authority, $49.99)
Vibram Five Fingers: They are the giant in the minimalist footwear industry. Individual slots for toes provide for dexterity and the Vibram sole provides good traction. They’re machine washable. (REI, $62.93 to $69.93)
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