Author Topic: Minimal Shoes  (Read 62857 times)

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Offline ksrunner

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Minimal Shoes
« on: December 15, 2009, 10:54:11 PM »
Hello,

I have been away for awhile. That usually happens when I get injured. I had an odd injury this summer where I felt relatively fine while running fast, but it hurt to run easy. For awhile, I tried to work through it just walking and doing interval workouts, but eventually, I decided to take time off. As I was coming back from the injury, I experimented with running in Fivefingers and racing flats. I eventually realized that the Fivefingers really don't work for me. I live on gravel roads and though I tried to build gradually, I just couldn't adapt to the rocks. The racing flats worked well though.

Thinking to replace the racing flats that I have been running in and interested in replacing my 22-year-old track spikes which I use for a couple of track meets a year and perhaps a cross country meet. I purchased a pair of Adidas adiZero Pro flats and a pair of Saucony Shay XC flats. I did not find anything that I liked at the local running store. So, I bought these online sight unseen thinking that flats are very simple and so long as they fit, there is not much to go wrong with flats.

I was thinking that I would use the Adidas for training and road racing and the Sauconys for track, cross country, and perhaps 5K races. When they arrived, I did not think that the sole of the Adidas would handle the gravel roads. The Shays on the other hand seemed that they might be okay. The gravel is not especially thick right now, so I took them for a 4 mile run this evening. They were GREAT. They have a hard sole, so I am not sure how well they would work on paved roads but they were great on my gravel roads. They totally protected my feet from stones. It was dark, so I could not see to avoid the stones. I am no longer prone to getting stone bruises through my shoes as I did when I first moved here, but I do tend to feel the stones if I step on them. I hardly noticed them tonight except that the ground felt uneven when I stepped on them. When I got home, the sole did not appear to have been damaged by the stones. Right now, I think that these will become my primary training shoes for the foreseeable future. I am so excited about them that I may purchase another pair right away. I  have a couple of routes that cover 1 mile of paved road. I will post again after I try them there. Right now, I expect that I will continue to use the racing flats for running on paved surfaces and reserve the Shays for gravel, grass, and the track.

By the way, although both pairs of shoes were on sale, I was specifically looking at the Saucony XC flats. I recalled a post from Andrew A about them as a possible transition shoe to the Fivefingers from before I was injured. I may purchase another pair of Fivefingers eventually, but if so, I will probably just use them for casual, comfortable shoes.

Steve
We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves.
   - Sir Roger Bannister, former athlete

Offline Andrew A.

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Re: Minimal Shoes
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2009, 11:40:17 PM »
Right, though it may have been the Kilkenny flats (a lower cost Saucony cc flat offering) that I had reported as being touted by many in the minimalist movement.  I cannot vouch for them, though it certainly makes sense that they (or the Shays or any other decent cc flat) would indeed prove to be a better option for training on hard surfaces than the FiveFingers.
Why dink around? Go for it, be the best. It is worth whatever risk there is even if you fall short. You will be better.
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Offline Ryan

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Re: Minimal Shoes
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2009, 07:26:21 AM »
Yes, my first thought when reading your post was Andrew mentioning the cross country flat as a popular shoe in the minimal movement.

Given your gravel routes, a cross country flat seems like a good option to me. Many road flats will be too soft to protect your feet very well from the kind of stones it sounds like you have to deal with. Cross country flats, on the other hand, are made just for this kind of terrain with more solid materials between your foot and the ground to protect your foot from the rocks, ruts, and various other things you'll encounter on a cross country course.

Offline Andrew A.

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Re: Minimal Shoes
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2009, 09:28:27 AM »
Forgot to add: good that it is working out for you!
Why dink around? Go for it, be the best. It is worth whatever risk there is even if you fall short. You will be better.
‎"There is no such thing as an overachiever. We are all underachievers to varying degrees." - John Wooden.

Offline ksrunner

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Re: Minimal Shoes
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2009, 12:38:46 PM »
Thanks for the replies.

Right, though it may have been the Kilkenny flats (a lower cost Saucony cc flat offering) that I had reported as being touted by many in the minimalist movement. 

I didn't realize that the Kilkenny flats cost less. I found the Shays on sale for $30. Other colors that I might have prefered were not on sale, but to paraphrase something that my wife says about horses: "A good running shoe is never a bad color."

I ran 6 miles in them this morning. As the sun came up, I realized that in the areas where the gravel has been swept to the side by cars, the frozen gravel roads are very similar to paved roads. I had to cross one paved road and didn't notice much difference during the crossing. One thing that I noticed today near the end of my run is that I felt a little fatigue in my legs. It seems that my legs are incorporating some different muscles with the XC flats. I will probably wait a few weeks before I do anything long in them.

When I first started showing up at group runs in racing flats, one of my friends indicated that I was courting injury by wearing old, worn out flats. Admittedly, they are old, but I raced only sparingly and hadn't thought of them as worn out.  That also led me to recall that my longest injury-free period of running was while I was alternating between some lightweight trainers (~2000 miles) and another pair of neutral training shoes (~1500 miles). During that period, I won another pair of neutral shoes with more cushioning and tried to introduce them to the mix, but each time I tried, I began to feel an injury coming on and I reverted back to the shoes that worked. After that experience, I have a hard time believing that worn-out shoes cause injuries. Those shoes that I put all the miles on looked terrible and had holes in the upper where the mesh had torn. But, I could still run in them comfortably. I suppose that people who have trained their bodies to depend on shoes for motion control or stability would encounter problems with worn out shoes. I could also see that if someone experienced uneven shoe wear that they might have a problem with worn out shoes. But in that instance, I think that that person already had a problem that was causing the uneven wear.

My feet definitely demand that I have something to protect them from the running surface. Other than that, my body seems to prefer shoes that stay out of the way.

Steve
We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves.
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Offline Ryan

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Re: Minimal Shoes
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2009, 01:20:40 PM »
Very interesting thoughts. I do think the biggest problem with worn out shoes is uneven wear. I don't doubt that worn out shoes are in some ways inferior to less worn shoes but, like you, I've been finding wear to be more about when the shoe is falling apart than when the midsole is breaking down a bit. I had a few people almost begging me to retire a pair of Adidas shoes earlier this year because of the holes in the upper, cracks in the torsion bar (I believe from running in extreme cold), and various other signs of extreme wear. They still worked so I kept wearing them. I can't say I've gotten 2000 miles on a pair of shoes but I've regularly gone well beyond the 500 mile upper limit you usually hear about.

I've actually noticed that I've been getting more miles on my flats than I used to get on the more bulky and "protective" regular trainers. My theory behind that is two-fold. First, the flats have forced me into a more gentle foot plant. I'm not pounding the ground as hard, which means I'm not breaking down the midsole as quickly. Second, with only half as much stuff between my foot and the ground, any result of uneven wear will be cut in half. For instance, if I do wear the medial portion of my midsole most rapidly and 500 miles of running on a 2 inch midsole wears it down to the point that the balance is thrown off by 1/16 of an inch, running 500 miles on a 1 inch midsole would likely wear it down to the point where the balance is thrown off by 1/32 of an inch. I don't know if that makes sense to someone reading it but it makes sense to me as I think about it. I've also noticed this a bit in looking at my old shoes.

I think most people who haven't developed a reliance on their shoes would be best served with shoes that stay out of the way for the most part. Most of us need some level of protection from the surface we're running on, whether from objects like your stones or from extremely hard man-made surfaces or something else. However, 2 inches of foam, rubber, plastic, gel, air, springs, or whatever else is just not natural.

Offline Andrew A.

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Re: Minimal Shoes
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2009, 03:13:04 PM »
I guess the MSRP for the Kilkennys is lower than that of the Shays.  The Shays are a steal at $30, if I could find them for that little in my size then I would definitely get some.  Eastbay and Holabird can tend to have closeout cc flats at steep discounts.  I just got some from Mizuno cc flats on First To The Finish for under $20 (google first to the finish coupon for codes to apply at checkout for an extra discount).  I like that quote, I certainly find it to be true!  Another issue that is usually exacerbated by using thick-soled shoes almost exclusively is proprioception (or a lack thereof) which relates directly to the forces encountered at footstrike.
Why dink around? Go for it, be the best. It is worth whatever risk there is even if you fall short. You will be better.
‎"There is no such thing as an overachiever. We are all underachievers to varying degrees." - John Wooden.

Offline ksrunner

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Re: Minimal Shoes
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2009, 02:43:00 PM »
Andrew,

I found the Shays at Footlocker. They don't have any more in my size now. It was only one color (silver/black/red) that was on sale for that price. If you go there, there is a code on the homepage for free shipping. It may not qualify if you only spend $30. I qualified the first time because I also ordered the Adidas flats.

When I was looking around to try to find Shays onsale again, it appeared that there were multiple retailers using the same software (same look and feel in the shopping experience) with similar inventory. I didn't check closely, but at a glance, it looked like they were sold out in the same sizes.) It made me wonder if they were selling shoes out of the same warehouse and whoever made the sale might receive a commission.  ???

By the way, I did look at Holabird (via Hillrunner.com -- I appreciate this site), but I decided to go with a retailer that had a local presence for my first time buying shoes online. In the end, the visit to the local Footlocker was misleading. The size that they recommended (12.5) was not the size that I ordered (13) and would have been too small. The local running store also had some flats on sale with the largest available size being 12.5. But, when I tried them on, they were too small. Still this experience had a good end result and left me feeling more confident about buying shoes online in the future. I just won't feel contstrained to shopping at stores with a local presence.

By the way, size 13 flats really accentuate my long, narrow feet.

Steve - had to look up "proprioception"
We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves.
   - Sir Roger Bannister, former athlete

Offline rehammes

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Re: Minimal Shoes
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2009, 05:30:30 PM »
Wow, I always leave Footlocker disappointed.  I like to pull for companies that have a Milwaukee connection (I think they have corporate offices on Brown Deer Rd) so it's good to hear they served you well.  I'm kind of surprised they carry such a focus-specific shoe.  I had thought, that unless you were looking for basketball shoes, you'd be out of luck there.  Good to hear nonetheless.

Funny about proprioceptive, I read a running book that loved that term, and I too had to look it up!

Offline Andrew A.

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Re: Minimal Shoes
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2009, 07:20:40 PM »
Right, Foot Locker = Eastbay = ESPN Shop = ??, at least when it comes to online presence.  Not sure if they all share a warehouse (they may even use the same item numbers) or if there is common ownership.  I have found some great deals on shoes on Eastbay, but it seems like anymore (with the above-referenced streamlining of warehousing/inventory) all that I can find in my size are full-price shoes there. 

Proprioception is not only important in terms of balance and form for running performance, but down the road it will pay off in old age.  A while ago I came across some information regarding proprioception and how older people going to shoes with thicker soles had the affect of diminished proprioception and (predictably) greater incidence of falls (and broken bones), reliance upon walkers or wheelchairs or 'personal mobility devices.'  If you maintain and improve your proprioception as years go by, you will stand a much better chance of having greater range of mobility as a pedestrian than if you follow the typical route of neglecting it inadvertently through shoe choice.  It seems to be an unfortunately underpublicized issue with significant implications.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2009, 09:05:52 AM by Andrew A. »
Why dink around? Go for it, be the best. It is worth whatever risk there is even if you fall short. You will be better.
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Offline Ryan

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Re: Minimal Shoes
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2009, 07:32:37 AM »
It's been a few years but, being in the (catalog) industry, I recall the story to some extent. Foot Locker bought Eastbay and put Eastbay in charge of their online and catalog operations. ESPN Shop is also a Foot Locker owned site.

I've been doing a horrible job updating the ads on this site lately (while they pay the bills, they tend to become my lowest priority just because I like to focus on other things) but you should be able to find some Eastbay and/or Foot Locker ads in the store. I also will try to get some deals from those sites up on the homepage. Anyway, appreciate you thinking of the ads here. I should do a better job keeping them up to date and letting people know what's out there.

Offline Andrew A.

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Re: Minimal Shoes
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2010, 01:01:49 PM »
Why dink around? Go for it, be the best. It is worth whatever risk there is even if you fall short. You will be better.
‎"There is no such thing as an overachiever. We are all underachievers to varying degrees." - John Wooden.

Offline Andrew A.

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Re: Minimal Shoes
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2010, 10:43:59 AM »
Mark Plaatjes weighs in on the topic.  Not sure if the linked page is viewable to everyone w/o a facebook account, so will copy/paste text and then a link.
Quote
My name is Mark Plaatjes and I am a physical therapist and co-founder of the Boulder Running Company in Boulder, Colorado. Originally I am from South Africa and competed in the Zola Budd era. In my practice I treat athletes ranging from five hour marathoners to many Olympic athletes and gold medalists. Personally I have won thirty eight marathons worldwide including the 1993 IAAF World Championships with a personal best of 2:08.58.

I have been observing the minimalist and barefoot running trend over the last two years and I feel it might be time to clarify some issues relating to barefoot and minimalist footwear. The mere fact alone that ninety five percent of runners train and race on asphalt, pavement, concrete, and trails; could close the debate over barefoot running. However, listed below are the obvious and relevant facts about barefoot and minimalist running.

1. Running barefoot/minimalist strengthens the intrinsic or postural muscles in the feet and lower leg.
2. Running barefoot/minimalist increases proprioceptive awareness and balance.
3. Running barefoot/minimalist forces a change in mechanics to adapt to the forces of on the feet.
4. There are no clinical trials that show an effect of barefoot/minimalist running for a prolonged period of time.
5. There are no research studies that prove that wearing traditional running shoes increases injuries or that barefoot/minimalist running reduces injuries.

No one, including myself, contest the above facts. If a runner has exclusive training on soft trails and/or grass, then by all means eschew running shoes as long as mechanics and gait allow for it.

There is also the issue of gait and the best way to run. The majority of people walk and run by landing on the heel and toeing off on the big toe. The anatomy of the foot reinforces this technique because the calcaneus is the largest bone in the foot with the largest fat pad in the foot underneath it. The metatarsals are small bones and have much less fat pad protection when compared to the calcaneus. These small bones are not designed to accept three times the weight of the body. The real issue we have to address is mechanics. Far too many people over stride and land with their center of gravity behind the foot strike, which leads to a braking effect and impact up the chain of the body. This type of running is also commonly mislabeled as heel-strike running. Correct heel strike running occurs by shortening the stride, increasing the cadence, and landing with the center of gravity over the feet. This greatly reduces the impact forces and enhances forward propulsion. This type of running is heel-strike running, but the contact point is not at the back of the heel but rather directly underneath the fat pad. Many people are trying to achieve this type of gait by modifying footwear instead of teaching runners the proper mechanics.

At In Motion Rehabilitation and at the Boulder Running Company, we see hundreds of runners each week. People come to us not to buy a pair of shoes, but to help them find a tool that will help and allow them to run with the least risk of injury. At this point it is important to point out the major distinction between the people that are able to run barefoot or wear minimalist shoes and the people who are not. Due to ligamentous laxity and/or biomechanical inefficiencies, sixty-five to seventy-five percent of people are not able to run bare foot/minimalist.

When a customer/patient walks into the store or clinic we ask them to take off their shoes and weight bear one foot at a time. If the longitudinal arch collapses and the navicular bone on the inside of the foot becomes prominent and moves medially toward the ground, no amount of strengthening is ever going to lift that navicular bone. The ligaments cannot support the bones in the normal alignment anymore. It would be irresponsible for me or any of the staff to recommend barefoot/minimalist shoes to these customers. We do have customers who have great mechanics and good foot structure and we certainly place them in the appropriate neutral/minimalist footwear. Our goal is to place the customer in the appropriate footwear and to correct any gait inefficiencies that they may have as well as not to fit them to a shoe that changes their gait.

At the Boulder Running Company and In Motion Rehabilitation, we certainly do not always get it right and we try to learn from our mistakes. For over fourteen years we have helped thousands of runners and walkers continue to do what makes them happy and to achieve their goals. We want runners to consult with their doctors, physical therapist, and podiatrists about their particular mechanics, gait, and foot structure before embarking on the barefoot/minimalist route. In the end, Boulder Running Company is a retailer, and whether we sell a motion control shoe or a minimalist shoe, it makes no difference to us. Our main interest is keeping our customers walking and running with the least amount of problems possible.

Walking and running barefoot certainly can serve as a useful tool in strengthening muscles and increasing proprioceptive awareness. It should be done gradually and with the guidance of a professional to analyze if a person’s mechanics will allow for the transition.
http://www.facebook.com/notes/boulder-running-company/a-commentary-on-barefootminimalist-running/253203788772
Why dink around? Go for it, be the best. It is worth whatever risk there is even if you fall short. You will be better.
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Offline r-at-work

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Re: Minimal Shoes
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2010, 11:55:18 AM »
from the atricle:
Quote
Although identical running speeds were maintained between conditions by study design, subjects adopted a significantly longer stride length shod (2.29 ± 0.29 m) than was observed barefoot (2.15 ± 0.32 m) (P < .001).
 

and from Mark Plaatjes on Facebook (thank you Ryan, I can't get there):
Quote
  Correct heel strike running occurs by shortening the stride, increasing the cadence, and landing with the center of gravity over the feet. This greatly reduces the impact forces and enhances forward propulsion. This type of running is heel-strike running, but the contact point is not at the back of the heel but rather directly underneath the fat pad. Many people are trying to achieve this type of gait by modifying footwear instead of teaching runners the proper mechanics.
 

I have done some treadmill 'gait analysis' done and what came out of it is that if I run 'easy' (really slowly) I tended to "flail", that is, jog with WAY too much excess motion..  but if I pick up the pace I become more efficient, less wasted motion and my cadence increases... the quote from the article says that they were running at the same SPEED, both barefoot and shod but the stride length was longer when shod, therefore the CADENCE had to be increased if running barefoot to make uo for the shorter stride length... so it seems to me that barefoot running makes you run 'more correctly' and (for me at least) so does running a bit faster... the question I have is this: Once you know how to run 'better', can you carry that over to the rest of your running? For example, (now) when I slow down I've found that it's easy to keep the cadence up if I think about it.. and I don't end up CLOMPING along, and my feet don't hurt, even after 20 miles...and my shoes last longer..
-Rita
"We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves..." Sir Roger Bannister

Offline Ryan

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Re: Minimal Shoes
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2010, 12:20:47 PM »
Rita, thank Andrew.

As for your question, I do think you can carry it over. I'm in favor of form drills to change form but I think a focus on cadence can help you change your form to some extent by reducing, if not eliminating, overstriding. Of course, you have to be a bit careful that you aren't straining anything by changing your form, which is why I'm in favor of form drills. You then change your form as you are strong enough to do so.

I feel like I'm typing in circles, I hope this is making some sense.

Andrew, interesting take from Plaatjes. I don't think anyone who is being honest can disagree with the facts he states up front. I do think he may overstate the amount of people who will not benefit from barefoot/minimalist running. However, maybe we are using different definitions of minimalist. To him, it almost seems like minimalist may mean nothing but rubber between the foot and the ground. While I think that would be the "ultimate" minimalist, I don't think it's the "ideal" minimalist for most people. I'm simply thinking of reducing the shoe, not eliminating it. While I always toy with the idea of going as close to barefoot as possible, I think it's telling that I'm still running in the Asics Hyperspeeds. By no means are those shoes bulky trainers but they are also something to offer some cushioning and protection from hard surfaces.