Barefoot running more than a fad

MICHELLE BRIDGES
Last updated 11:26 06/12/2011
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FOOTLOOSE: Fans of barefoot running say it results in less injuries.

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Maybe it's a girl thing, but I can't help myself when it comes to the latest trends. I admit it - I'm deeply superficial.

So when barefoot running became the next big thing in the world of exercise, I quickly got myself a pair of purpose-designed "barefoot" trainers.

Barefoot running isn't necessarily done in bare feet.

Most footwear manufacturers offer a "barefoot" minimalist trainer, and I have to say I kinda get it.

There's something liberating about the lightness of them.

Minimalist trainers range from the thin-soled running shoes that resemble the trainers we wore back in the '60s and '70s, right the way through to those odd-looking little numbers with separate pockets for each toe that look a bit like a rubber glove on your foot.

The "Barefoot Professor", Harvard's Daniel Lieberman, claims that barefoot running results in fewer injuries, citing that there is no evidence those expensive running shoes we've been buying for years prevent running injuries.

Barefoot running differs in running style from cushioned-sole running, which encourages the heel to strike the ground first, and quite heavily at that (hence the need for impact-absorbing cushioning).

By contrast, an experienced barefoot runner's forefoot or mid-foot strikes the ground first, which is a very different running experience that will take some getting used to.

I believe in keeping an open mind when it comes to exercise.

Before you take yourself off for a barefoot jog around the block, however, test some minimalist trainers first to see if you like the change, because you'll be introducing some muscles in your feet and lower leg to stresses that they may not be used to.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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