October 16, 2010

Running in my Bikilas: The Theory

My chiropractor said it best, "Adam and Eve didn't wear shoes, so barefoot running has to be the most natural and healthy way to run." This of course is true but so much has changed since the garden. While the first couple walked in grass and on dirt, we predominantly tread on concrete and hard wood floors, not to mention I don't suppose Adam and Eve felt peer pressure to buy expensive athletic tennis shoes or stylish pointy high heels. They simply walked on the two feet God gave them and that was that.

Today even newborn babies go home from the hospital with at least something on their feet. Seems nearly the moment we're born our feet are covered and destined to stay that way the rest of our days. Some experts, however, feel this isn't always a good idea, especially when it comes to running.

The theory behind barefoot running is it's most natural and therefore more conducive to healthy ligaments, joints, and tendons. By altering our natural gait, padded tennis shoes essentially cause us to run unnaturally by allowing heels to strike the ground first. Repeated heel strikes over time can begin to take a toll on a runner's knees, hips, and spine causing aches and pains an alternate form of running may likely avoid. Running barefoot, on the other hand, prompts us to land on the ball of the foot in order to avoid landing hard on the heels.

Natural though it may be, I can attest to the fact that having worn tennis shoes nearly all my life, this method of running feels very odd and takes a great degree of concentration to pull off at this early stage. Should I ever forget to land on the balls of my feet and by chance land on a heel, my Bikilas remind me toot sweet. With no cushion in the shoe whatsoever, a heel strike in these five-fingered beauties is most unpleasant and not easily forgotten.

I was warned adapting to these shoes would be slow so I'm in no hurry. I wear them each day just to get used to the feel and have worked up to running outside in them for a whopping six minutes. Interestingly enough the first thing I notice about these shoes, beyond the void of cushion, is lack of support. With absolutely no arch support, each foot left is on its own to strengthen and adapt in a new way. Eventually the intricate muscles of the feet grow and develop to meet the demand so the feeling of running barefoot becomes more comfortable and natural. Until then I must limit my workouts and keep patience close at hand...or should I say foot.

Oh. I almost forgot. My last six minute run worked my upper, mid, back calves so much I couldn't run for two days. They were sore as could be. Clearly these calf muscles are not the predominant muscles used propel me in my tennis shoes. Everything is so different now.


Cheryl Barker said...

Can't imagine how tricky it must be to learn to run differently. Don was a runner up until a few years ago. Will have to ask him if he's ever heard of this. Good luck with it!

Kimberly Vanlandingham said...

I'm fairly new to running, but I've never heard of anything like those shoes! Wild! Good luck with them.

katiegfromtennessee said...

Oh my, I had heard about these after seeing a pair once, they look like fun, but I guess you have to get used to them!:)

Blessings always,


Anonymous said...

It is great to have another believer to share barefoot running with as most of the people talk with think running barefoot is dangerous and strange. I'll take strange over heel striking any day. I'm thinking about buying a pr. ov VFF's but I made a pr. of toe socks into a pr. of VFF's wantabees and I
I'll use them when needed until they fall apart.
Looking forward to here of your running and faith stories.
North Coast George.

Amy E. said...

okay..so we were in the Apple store a few weeks ago and one of the techs was wearing a blue version of your "shoes"..I thought to myself.."those are weird..wonder what they are for?"

well now I know! thanks!!
I hope the adjustment goes well.