By Brianne

So many arguments back and forth for barefoot running.  The barefoot running purist will argue that the evil running shoe companies are promoting that their over-the-top, super cushioned shoes, are what we runners need to reduce injury and absorb impact.  A cushioned running shoe is a heel striker’s best friend!  Barefoot runners, who are not incorrect, argue the point that heel strikers will adapt their form once the shoe has been removed, because barefoot heel striking doesn’t really feel that great and your body will naturally adjust to a forefoot striking form.

Of course, with the new trend of minimalist footwear coming out, there are going to be attempts from the running shoe companies to have the best of both worlds – they have conformed to the idea of barefoot running and have come up with a shoe that will still protect you while allowing you to run “barefoot”. 

The argument back and forth will never end.  This study highlights all the injuries that occur with “shod runners”; this article highlights a recent study which shows that running with shoes is more efficient than running barefoot.  I only give one example on either side, but Google it – it is never-ending.

As I have been writing this blog and researching articles, in the back of my mind is the advice we give our clients at Foot Tools.  We tend to sit on the fence, mainly because every runner is different.  Imagine my happy dance (similar to Elaine’s dancing in Seinfeld) when I stumbled upon this article from The Science of Sport, who discussed research and reports from various studies who promoted the virtues of barefoot running – but then made the point that seems too often forgotten:

“What the Nature study hasn’t measured is the long term (or even the short term) effects of the change on loading rates on different joints.  If you wish to guarantee yourself an injury, then go out for a 2km run barefoot on a hard surface, and you will be asking your calf muscles and Achilles tendons to do work that for perhaps 30 years, they haven’t had to do.”

Certainly there are those, like the barefoot running purist, who have never been swayed by the shoe companies to come over to the dark side of cushioned and supportive running shoes.  I couldn’t even guess at a percentage, but I would imagine that it might be quite low in comparison to the number of people who did fall for the “evil” trap of the running shoe.  If you have never really run in anything more than a sock with a sole in it, then you shouldn’t have any issues with transitioning to barefoot or minimalist running.  The rest of us, however, have been running in cushioned shoes for a large part of our lives and simply can’t transition the same way.  It is a concrete world out there and to go from running in a 12mm heel-to-toe differential shoe to running in virtually nothing, is asking for injury.

Does this mean you shouldn’t try it?  Not at all.  What it does mean is that you should use caution when embarking on this minimalist/barefooted journey.  Try working your way down from your current running shoe to a lighter weight one and ease into that.  Take the time to build the strength needed in your calves and tendons before you drop down to an even lower profile shoe.  Companies like Inov-8 and Saucony are starting to develop lines of shoes that allow runners to transition this way, with the idea that, when done properly, your journey to a more natural running pose will be injury free.  Of course there is a financial interest in this for these companies, but really – can you blame them?  This a business for them, just like any other business out there protecting you with their services at a cost.

So – what do you think?

By Brianne

Anyone else feeling how hectic this spring has become?  Foot Tools has been a zoo this spring and I have to say, it is inspiring.  We have so many kids coming in for track and field spikes – their enthusiasm and skill is amazing.  Not to mention, the many people who come through our door looking for a new pair of shoes or running advice.  This is why we do what we do.  We love to help people!

That being said, when things get busy, most people tend to drop fitness first when in a crunch to get things done or when life suddenly becomes too busy.  Let me tell you why this is a bad thing:

1.  Studies have shown that regular exercise, no matter what, can reduce anxiety and depression, create positive self-esteem, release stress, and give you a better night’s sleep.  Even walking 15 minutes a day can make a difference.  When you drop exercise, you are making matters worse.  So no excuses, get out there and enjoy the fresh air.

2. Something on your mind?  Going out for a run, pounding out the mileage on the treadmill, or jumping on the bike and exploring a new neighbourhood can help to free your mind and help you work out those nagging problems.  It is a great feeling and you might be surprised how encouraging it is to keep getting out there.  No matter the exercise, it can make a difference.

3.  Stress eating.  Two words that should never be in the same sentence and yet most of us are victims of it.  The pressure of a deadline, problems with your kids in school or injuries are bumming you out – before you know it, out comes the ice cream, chips AND chocolate.  Any food within your reach finds its way into your mouth.  A quick way to pack on pounds and reduce your energy to get out and stay on top of your health.  So before you take another bite out of that piece of chocolate that you just dipped into the peanut butter jar, put it down.  Walk away slowly.  Go for a walk around the block.  Take a deep breath.  Hold on to that feeling of freedom.

4.  Sometimes when life gets hectic, we covet those moments when we can sit down and relax.  No shame in that.  What is a shame?  Becoming a couch potato in response to the things that are bringing you down.  Don’t feel motivated to get off the couch?  It’s ok to feel this way.  It’s not ok to feel this way every day.  We know it isn’t easy.  Find a local group to join and make a commitment.  A friend of mine met a couple of friends through a running group; they set up a regular schedule to meet to run together outside the group, but didn’t share last names or ways to contact each other.  It guaranteed that they couldn’t cancel and stayed committed.  There are plenty of groups out there to keep you focused – running, walking, cycling, general fitness…most people will stay committed when they have signed up and paid for an activity.  So what are you waiting for?  Get out there and before you know it, you won’t even remember that you have a couch!

The moral of the story is this – you are important.  Your health is important.  When you put it last, everything else that you make a priority first will also suffer in the end.  Is it really too much to give yourself 20-30 minutes of You Time everyday?  You need a break.  Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.  Stressing over deadlines will not help you live longer.  A daily dose of fresh air will.

Spring fever really has hit Foot Tools in 2012, with exciting races, challenges and workshops coming up!

April

Wednesday, April 18 at 7 p.m. – Foot Tools will be hosting our annual Wetsuit Night with store owner Paula Desjardins and Nineteen’s Sales Manager, Steve Fleck.  Get all the latest wetsuit information and properly fitted.   Special discounts one night only!

Tuesday, April 24; Wednesday, April 25; Thursday, April 26 from 5-9 p.m. – Join us at Foot Tools for our Spike Nights, 3 special nights for coaches, athletes and parents.  With one of the largest track and field spike selections in the Greater Toronto Area, you won’t want to miss this!  Get all the latest information on our spikes, plus special discounts and free pizza!  RSVP at info@foottools.ca or call 905-637-1888 to let us know what night you would like to come by and for more information.

May

Thursday, May 3rd from 7-9 p.m. – Join Gerry Visca and Angela Kontgen at the Foot Tools Beach House for Thursday Infusions, a night dedicated to meditation, energy and balance with nutrition and fitness.  Limited to 20 participants!  Click the link for more information and to RSVP.

Saturday, May 12 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. – The 2nd Annual Tread Powerfully Partner Challenge will be taking place at the Foot Tools Beach House.  $25 per team, maximum 25 teams.  A fun event full of challenging activities!  Visit www.foottools.ca for more information and to print off the registration form!  Payment information provided with form.

June

Thursday, June 7 at 7 p.m. – Foot Tools Beach Challenge!!!! $20 to register, which will be open online soon or you can register through the store. Sand, kettle bells, burpees and more! Good food, good prizes and a ton of fun!

Saturday, June 23 at 8 a.m. – Element Racing is hosting their 2nd Annual Burlington Beach Run.  This is a great event that is well organized with great prizes.  And it is small, so you have a better chance of winning!

Thursday, June 28 at 7 p.m. – We love our Beach Challenge so much, we are holding it twice!!!  $20 to register, which will be open online soon or you can register through the store. Sand, kettle bells, burpees and more! Good food, good prizes and a ton of fun!

We hope to see you at more than one of these exciting events!  :)

New arrivals at Foot Tools!!!  The Saucony Hattori and Limited Edition Canada Kinvara 2!!!  Check out this great video on their new minimal shoes, posted by Saucony on YouTube:

Available in store or online – either way, make sure you visit us and see them for yourself!

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