Are we running the wrong way?

i was on (sadly mourning the loss phoenix took last night) and happened upon this article in truehoop.

it talks about a book called ‘born to run’, which i’m sure those in the industry have read already, but it basically states that the way we run now is the reason for so many injuries. as opposed to having our heel strike the ground, what i’m gathering is that our arch can be and should be used as our main source of shock absorption. it mentions the vibram five fingers as a shoe that promotes healthy running, but this led me to wonder…what other shoes out there promote a type of running that i can imagine would look flat-footed? if this is actually the best way to run, how come the big companies out there are still promoting heel-based cushioning, which would further perpetuate the idea that landing on your heels is the best way to run?

is the idea right, or is the theory what zeitgeist is to 9/11?

There is a lot of movement (no pun intended) in the industry towards “barefoot” or “minimal” running. Aside from the Nike Free which is supposed to be along these lines (but sort of isn’t), there are shoes from Newton, Ecco, and others. All follow certain principles to an extent.

A client of mine, I’ve been working with for a while, Skora is entering this space as well.

It will be exciting I think to see how this changes the market, but I expect the majority of brands and products to still follow the old heel cushioning model for some time, perhaps forever. Running in a more biomechanically correct is more healthy, but goes against what a lot of people believe and have been marketed towards for some time. It also take correct training to do so without injury or difficulty.


you’re right…i was trying to run while consciously using my arch as the my main source of cushioning and focus of impact. it felt okay, but i’m sure it looked awkward. even though he shot at or near a 90% clip, it’s probably the same reason no one shoots free throws like rick barry…

I run quite a bit when its not winter, mostly 5ks. and the more i got into running i found that i just plain cannot wear shoes with thick outsoles, my legs are in major pain after about a mile. so i went to racing flats, which helped alot but just made it hold of until about 3 miles. but the barefoot shoes i dont get any pain and i can run strong until my muscles actually start to fatigue from running, not from the shoes im wearing, so thats great. Im looking to set new PR’s this upcoming summer for sure! but it is something you have to start slow with and work it in slowly. First time i wore the barefoot shoes i felt so great running in them that i did 3 miles on the first run (instead of my planned 1), i was limping around like an old man for the next 4 days.

also check out terra plana vivo and evo barefoot:
New balance Minimus:

In a year from now im pretty certain 90% of all major brands will have barefoot or natural motion footwear on the market.

I went to a lecture here in grand rapids where a guy went and ran in the super marathon or whatever its called with the tribe/people from the book born to run. it was very interesting and unlike the whole shaping and toning shoe movement i dont think its just a bunch of hype, at its core at least.

One thing that i have noticed about barefoot, forefoot/midfoot strike running is that its quite hard to do at a slow pace, say less than 7mph on a treadmill or slower than 8 minute mile. when you start to slow down its just easier to heel strike, so alot of casual joggers are at slower paces and therefore they need the heelstrike based shoes. thats just my joe lunchbox assessment, not professional by any means.

i read that too, there are benefits but they are also some negatives at least as far a bball is concerned…not sure if that it really looks all that awkward…after all when you are full out sprinting you are probably closer to ideal/natural using your forefoot to land/push off. for me one of the main “problems” is as dziner82 mentioned is that it can be more difficult to do this at slower speeds, also i think it makes it change of direction a little more precarious if you are forefoot striking (because of how foreign it is compared to what you are used to and less of one’s foot is contacting the ground and your basically doing a controlled ‘fall’) but by far the biggest “issue” is difference in cushioning between a “natural strike” shoe and a conventional bball shoe, then you have to try and divide your focus into landing correctly, balancing, other players, and everything else going on on the basketball court…

the hurdle seems to be that while in the long run a less cushioned/forgiving shoe that encourages forefoot/midftoot striking (and thus penalizes heel striking) just may be the best choice for perserving those joints and less ache & pains it is definitely less comfortable in the here & now, so for someone who runs casually and may not know of the long term benefits or the technique; dedication, education & a willingness to go through a some discomfort would be necessary…it is the answer to your question why the heel-toe cushioning model persists, because while it may not be the best option it is comfortable, and its worth noting that most people buying athletic shoes probably do not really demand all that much from them, so something that looks good , performs well enough, & is comfortable is cool.

not sure how much the masses will embrace it, but it definitely is something that will be (and has been) in the zeitgeist…

Great book. I’ve been running and Crossfitting in Innov8tes for a while and love them.

check out POSE running for some videos on what the “falling” running technique should look like

funny, i just watched a ted talk which i guess is from the same guy about that concern

check it out:

i was realy disappointed that nike stoped selling the free 3.0, at least i can´t get any here. i even tried to find some in shanghai last time :slight_smile:

nice to see that some other companies are taking on that way, i have always been a fan of minimalistic feet clothing for sport :slight_smile:
i still think the mercurial vapor soccer shoe from nike is the best! (for soccer)


Puma has had a few different models out earlier that were really minimalistic. I’ve used my Saloh II’s now for about 2.5 years, from when i started trying to adopt the pose method/forefoot strike way of running. They arent close to being worn out yet, even though ive logged plenty of Km’s in them. Sadly their H-street model ,which was insanely popular, was discontinued before the trend took off, as well as the Saloh’s. (I scored me a pair of old factory samples)

While I was interning at puma, I was trying to get them to consider to start producing those again. My pleads went unanswered, but now it seems like they started with the H-streets for woman again (surely not thanks to me). They also released the Kosmos, which have the same outsole as their previous minimalistic models.

Puma also seems to have followed Nike’s path with some kind of hybrid like the lunars. They pushed the Lift’s, but this season they released the faas models.

I cant really get used to the vibram shoes visually, even though they have been around for a long time now. I think id rather run true barefoot, use the ‘socks’ like feelmax ( or the terra planas EVO ( So far the Pumas have been more than sufficient for me, and since they dont seem to wear out, i see no reason to replace them.

Sidenote: Considering my own limited experiences, the only issues ive had so far are some pains in the arch during intensive periods. I do however have very high arches, but I will probably never go back to the classic jogging shoes. I made an attempt once, but trying to keep the same pace was impossible. My thighs just couldnt keep up and cramped. So it seems like I use completely different muscles for the two.

I felt that it was very easy to transfer to mid/forefoot strike immediately with a thin shoe, rather than trying to do it in standard jogging shoes. The feel of how you landed on your foot was just so obvious and easy to adjust.

Awesome url’s and resources people are posting. Keep em coming!

As a runner I tactically converted to a more mid/forefoot strike a couple years ago to remedy hip and knee pain, but without making and change in footwear… categorically speaking (as an overpronator I will run in any brand’s mid-t0-hi stability trainer… Brooks Adrenaline, Asics 2150, Nike Structure, adi Supernova Sequence, etc.) However, I’ve become increasing bothered by knowing that I’m carrying under my heel 2 to 3 ounces of bulk that I don’t use in my running.

This fall will bring the launch of the Brooks Pure Project. I’m very excited about them. It will initially be 4 shoes: Pure Connect, a very lightweight neutral trainer/racer; Pure Flow, a neutral trainer with more cushion; Pure Cadence, a stability trainer (wedged midsole, not posted… yippeeeeeee!); and Pure Grit a trail shoe. All of these shoes will have a minimal heel-to-toe drop, and a more rounded outsole designed for runners who either strike and/or reach full weight bearing at some point in front of the heel center. Here’s a look…

I can’t run anymore, it’s too hard on me.

I have some Vivo barefoot boots (not running shoes - causal) but cannot wear them without orthotics as I get severe pain in my arches without the extra support.

#old. :laughing:

I think that defeats the point. :slight_smile:


I stumbled upon this discussion while in reading through the boards and I couldn’t help not to reply to this topic and give my input in this matter. It seems like just about every footwear company is trying to push a new minimalistic and lightweight running shoe that is better for you and your feet. If you look around you will notice alot of people wearing nike free’s and the vibram fivefingers and you wondering why they are so popular. Just about every company in the game is coming out with their own verison.
There have been alot of studies on this matter of the correct way of running and also barefoot running, there has been alot of studies and researching going on at Harvard over the past few years on the studies of running motions.
We are NOT running the wrong way. There is a difference in running barefoot and running with running shoes/sneakers on.
The natural motion of the human foot is altered when running in shoes causing runners to strike with their heel as opposed to a forefoot strike when running barefoot.
Every person also has a different way of running based on how much and how often they run and there are natural mechanics of the human body that factor in where everyone has a different stride and gait and people are neutral runners(avg)slight-moderate overpronators, and pronators(supinators) which is rare. So people have different size and shape feet as well as arches from flat feet to high arches and these factors have a major impact on the way people run.
So if you want to try to run the right way or more proper way then you can try some of the products out there on the market if they are correct for you. Running barefoot on the beach is great and provides great resistance to strengthen your feet.

@shoenista. If you can’t run anymore and it is hard on your body and you have severe pain in your arches, you should wear the correct shoes with orthotics for that support that you need!!! and dont wear minimalistic shoes like nike free’s or vibram fivefingers until you build the strength back in your feet.

I’m actually glad this thread was revived - i remember reading the original article a long time ago as well and like yourself I read Core all the time but never post - usually cause I’m on the go or just checking

If you think about how our feet develop from birth to now, we’ve always been stuck in shoes - as kids we wear overbuilt chunky shoes that are aimed for durability as well as protecting our feet - not really with the idea that we’re kicking around on the playground.

if you look at Chi Running - it’s similar to how we run as children - heavy on midfoot striking

Forefoot running and minimalistic running is a call to barefoot running - something you have to train to do like MZ said. - I’ve been in Frees now since… 2008 at least - and they really help my shins and knees, i naturally run as a forefoot runner but like MZ said, we all run a different way. you either have to train your feet and your running style to become forefoot heavy - but the majority of us have a running gait of landing on our lateral heel, through the arch, and push off on our big toe

best way to find out what’s best for you - get your gait checked out! if you’re a serious runner or have issues while running such as previous injuries, chronic pains, etc - go to a specialty running store that can analyze your gait and recommend shoes and orthotics that fit you - you shouldn’t make yourself fit the shoes when it comes to running

I know! :laughing:

I know! :laughing: