A few months back I wrote a review on the VIVOBAREFOOT Evo barefoot running shoe. To this day, the Evo is still one of my favourite shoes to wear for a quick run or to kick around in on the weekend. I have been keeping up-to-date with VIVOBAREFOOT’s developments as I am keen to see what minimalistic running shoes they bring out next.
On that note, be sure to check out their new Ultra, a light-weight barefoot amphibious running shoe. It looks fantastic for those weekends when you’re at the cottage and want a shoe that you can run in, but also not have to worry if it gets soaked in the lake.
VIVOBAREFOOT Evo Running Shoe Give Away Contest!
Before getting into this post, I am very excited to announce that VIVOBAREFOOT has kindly offered two pairs of VIVO BAREFOOT Evo running shoes to Healthynomics readers!
We have one women’s and one men’s pair of Evo’s to give away.
Details of the contest will be outlined in an upcoming post, so stay tuned.
Making Sense Of Barefoot Running eBook
Recently VIVOBAREFOOT in conjunction with Lee Saxby, has published an eBook entitled “Propieception: Making Sense Of Barefoot Running”. The eBook is free and I encourage anyone that is already transitioned to minimalistic running or barefoot running newbies alike to check it out.
As mentioned above, “Making Sense of Barefoot Running” was written by Lee Saxby. He has spent 20 years studying with the leading researchers across the fields of biomechanics, nutrition, athletic training, evolutionary biology and functional medicine. Christopher McDougall, the author of the international bestselling book “Born to Run” has called Lee Saxby “The World’s Best Running Coach”.
The eBook is broken up into 5 sections:
- We Have Forgotten How to Run
- The Human Foot is an Evolutionary Masterpiece
- Proprioception: Our Sixth Sense
- Footwear That Makes Sense
- Reawaken Your Innate Barefoot Running Skill
The eBook is not a long read and I do encourage you to read it all on the VIVOBAREFOOT website. Below is a summary.
We Have Forgotten How to Run
About 80% of all runners suffer from a running related each year. Plantar fasciitis, runner’s knee, iliotibial band syndrome, Achilles tendinitis – you would be hard pressed to find a regular runner that has not suffered through one of these common running injuries.
With all of the developments in running shoe technology how did we get here? According to Lee Saxby, endurance running was one of the most significant evolutionary factors in determining human anatomy and physiology. So if humans were made to run and we have made massive strides in improving training techniques, better understand human physiology and “state-of-the-art” running shoes are being manufactured by dozens of companies, the next step is simple. Learn how to run again.
The Human Foot is an Evolutionary Masterpiece
Over the last two-million years, humans have developed a distinctive form of moving. The foot has evolved over time into a complex system of springs and levers which permits three forms of movement. Walking, running and sprinting.
When we walk, the foot and ankle permit a distinctive rocking motion, which results in the “heel-toe” walking action we all know. When running however, Lee Saxby explains that the biomechanical behaviour of the foot reverses; essentially we land on the ball of the foot and then follow with the heel. The Achilles tendon and plantar fascia then can act as springs to help propel us forward in an energy-efficient manner. Sprinting takes running one step further. When we sprint, only the ball of the foot touches the ground.
The sport of jogging did not come around until the 1960’s, about the same time as when cushioned running shoes became popular. If you take a look at the biomechanics of a jogger, you will see a similar pattern as a walker. Heel-toe, heel-toe. The eBook states that this movement pattern is not natural. If we did not have cushioned shoes, the sensory feedback from our feet would tell us to change our biomechanics from heel-toe to landing on our forefoot. Have you ever tried running barefoot on cement with a heel-strike? It hurts!
Proprioception: Our Sixth Sense
Proprioception is our body’s ability to sense its own position, balance and movement. Because our feet have such a large percentage of stretch receptors to inform our brain of our interaction with our surrounding environment, thick shoes limit the amount of information being sent back to our brains. The brain is basically on an information diet and does not have ample data to move our body with quality movement patterns.
Humans have a problem. Our brain requires the information provided by stretch receptors, but if we left our feet totally exposed to allow the sensory information to flow, our feet are left in a vulnerable position. Just imagine you live in Manhattan and you run or walk to work barefoot. Yes, it’s very possible to do this uninjured but, leaving your feet exposed to the dangers of rocks, glass and other objects is a huge risk of injury.
Humans are smart. To combat the lack of padding on our feet and to survive in a wide range of landscapes and climates our brain power helped us utilize animal skins and furs to amply protect our feet.
Footwear That Makes Sense
Lee Saxby believes that humans require shoes that allow the foot to behave exactly as it would bare, while also providing protection from the environment.
There are four criteria you should consider when purchasing a barefoot running shoe:
- The shoe must permit sensory feedback back to your brain in order to run naturally. In other words, the shoe cannot be overly cushioned and encourage your foot into unnatural biomechanics.
- The sole of the shoe should protect your feet from extreme temperatures and be puncture-proof. These requirements should be accomplished without sacrificing sensitivity to terrain.
- The weight distribution of the shoe should not disturb your foot’s natural balance and position.
- The toe box of the shoe should be wide enough to allow outward toe splay. Toe splay helps keep you balanced.
Reawaken Your Innate Barefoot Running Skill
If you’re like me, you have been wearing running shoes with thick cushioning for most of your life. You need to be strategic about transitioning to barefoot running or injuries will result. Trust me on this.
I purchased a pair of VIVOBAREFOOT Evos and when they arrived at my door, I ripped open the box, put them on and went for a 5km run. I loved the feeling of running in the Evos and instantly felt my running form change to accommodate the lack of cushioning. The next day however, my calves were absolutely killing me!
Barefoot running is a skill and the body requires some progressive training and coaching to prepare. Lee Saxby provides some priceless training drills and tips to get you started with barefoot running. Your barefoot journey will take you from barefoot walking to squatting, barefoot jumping and finally, barefoot running. Do not progress too quickly.
You have been wearing running shoes with air soles, gels and springs in them for years, so do not expect to run barefoot for 10km in your first go.
Enjoy the ride.