Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Guest Post by Golden Harper of Altra Footwear

I was recently approach by the people at Altra Footwear asking if they could do a guest post. The post below was written by Golden Harper who is a previous all American runner, and who founded Altra Zero Drop Footwear. You can check the company's updates and their latest information on their blog 

For the record, I have received nothing in exchange for this guest post. Furthermore I have never personally run in, or had the chance to directly evaluate a pair of Atlra running shoes. However, my impression is that Altra running ehoes are generally excellent for minimalist running,  and I do know many runners who love in them. If I ever have the chance to evaluate them, I will of course write about it here.

The Transition To Barefoot Running

Barefoot running only appears like a new trend in athletics. This is actually the traditional method of running that humans have used for thousands of year. The Tarahumara Indians of Mexico still run in this fashion today after an uninterrupted history of such running. This method has garnered interest today, though, even among professional athletes in developed countries.

What Is Barefoot Running?

Running barefoot does not take much description. It simply means running without footwear. However, since athletes have been using shoes to run for centuries, it has taken them of all sorts some adjustments to return to the roots of running.

This running technique has not been without controversy. Many athletes eschew running without shoes entirely and claim that it is bad for the feet. They say that shoes were invented to improve the ability to run and not degrade it. Furthermore, they point out the increased likelihood of cuts and other injuries to the foot to which athletes become vulnerable when they run barefoot.

Running without footwear has gained some popular backers, though. Olympians such as Zola Budd and Abebe Bikila both promote barefoot running and have the records to prove its efficacy. As of the present, scientific research has not determined conclusively one way or the other if running without shoes has definitively positive or negative effects on health.

The Benefits

Those in the pro-barefoot camp claim several benefits from this mode of running. Besides just a general return to nature interest, promoters of running without shoes suggest that it helps feet regain their natural strengths.

Professional runners who use traditional footwear are liable, more than anything else, to injuries in the foot due to repetitive stress on the heel. This region of the foot suffers from the repeated impacts against the padding in shoes as they meet the ground. Barefoot running, its supporters claim, reduces the risks of these chronic injuries by removing footwear that interferes with the natural encounter between heel and ground. Continuous use of this method, they also claim, strengthens muscles in the foot and makes them more resistant to such damage.

It is not necessary to view this debate in black and white. Many runners today take a middle ground. They run while wearing special shoes for running barefoot known as minimalist footwear.

What Are Minimalist Shoes?

The first time you see minimalist shoes, you may not know what you are looking at. Many of these so-called barefoot shoes appear like casts for your feet. They are designed to involve as little extra padding and interference as possible. At the same time, minimalist shoes provide some of the core protections that shoes have always offered from the weather and from environmental damage. Often, they have no heel cushion whatsoever and only provide a few millimeters of shoe between the rest of the foot and the ground.

Even solid supporters of shoes for barefoot running believe in a gradual return to barefoot running. For this reason, minimalist shoes play an important role in helping runners find their best mode of movement.

1 comment:

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