Monday, August 2, 2010

Barefoot research

I spotted this on Drew Baye's Facebook:

A fascinating overview of research about the benefits of barefoot training.

Incidentally, the barefoot / minimalist shoe movement that the doctor complains about:

Running in both minimalist shoes and racing flats does not resemble barefoot running. If used on naturally deposited ground, the ideal condition for barefoot locomotion, these shoes essentially eliminate plantar surface (bottom of foot) localized deformations and shear stress, mechanical forces applied to the plantar surface which produce sensory feedback. These sensations are responsible for the mechanics of barefoot running. If used on outdoor man made surfaces, such as concrete and asphalt,, that allow minimal localized plantar deformation, these shoes will minimize shear stress thereby reducing sensory feedback to levels seen in any shoe.

....continues. I saw today that Merrell are bringing out a new line to cash in:

Merrell Goes Barefoot For 2011

We've saved the most interesting development till last, Merrell is launching a range of minimalist outdoor shoes called 'Barefoot' which they've developed in partnership with Vibram.

There are six models in the range – priced between £80 and £90 – all of which use the same Vibram sole unit with minimal support and cushioning. The theory, based on bare-foot running, is that removing cushioning and stiffening allows the foot to move more naturally and encourages forefoot striking rather than heel landing, which is only possible because of mid-sole cushioning.

Merrell says that the result is lower impact and a more efficient and aligned gait plus stimulated muscles increasing core strength, improving ability and building 'the body's ability to burn more calories'.

It's interesting stuff and the first barefoot shoes we've seen designed for general outdoors walking rather running. Intriguingly, the other advocate of minimal, barefoot footwear at the show was inov-8, arguably about as far away from Merrell as you can get.

Maybe I'm being cynical about cashing in. I like inov8 shoes though - a really nice fit that I use for the hills.


Methuselah said...

Innov8 are doing some quite forward-thinking stuff around barefoot. I've not got any links, but they are due to release a shoe that's very minimalist soon and I've even seen photos of a prototype that looks like basically a condom for a foot!

Chris said...

foot as in 12 inches?

(sorry, couldn't resist)

Chris said...

I do virtually all my hillwalking in innov8s now. When I do wear boots it feels like my feet are in plaster casts.

Raymond said...

Gee I run a lot and haven't seen this before in Australia I hope I can find the Merrell Barefoot out here.
Cool Info

Methuselah said...

No - for the thing at the end of your leg :-)

The new minimal barefoot shoe is called the Bare-Grip™ 200.

I've forwarded the photo of the 'condom' shoes to your email!

. said...

I'm excited about this. I tried vibrams sourced from Australia but, alas, I have very short toes and my foot slopes off dramatically toward the smaller toes so they didn't even go in the pockets. I reluctantly had to return them. Other brands I've been unable to source nearby but I see there are a couple of Merrell retailers. I've resorted to Nike Frees but they are actually pretty chunky soled. Barefoot is best of course but in winter it's too cold and the ground's too sodden and slippery.

Ian Simon said...

The new issue of 220 triathlon magazine has an article on barefoot running, including details of the Inov-8 show to be released for Xmas. I'm very tempted - at £40, its a realistic price to give it a try.

Unfortunately, the article isn't on the website - you'll need to read it in WHSmith!

Chris G said...

I'm another inov8 user, 330s for everyday use and terroc 295s for hill walking. I havent used them in the winter yet but did go 5 hours over boggy wet ground last week with some seal skinz socks with them. The shoes let in water but my feet were still dry when I got back to the car. Havent tried them on scree or snow yet though. The last time I looked at their website they were bringing out what was going to be the worlds lightest leather walking boot. How do you find the 315s Chris?

Anonymous said...

I am interested in the Inov's Recolite 190 Light model ( for general use, walking, shorts sprints and exercise - wondering if anyone has tried them and would recommend them for those activities.

Thanks, Chris

Chris said...

@Chris G

I actually use Roclite 295's

I really enjoy them. Great grip, light and really flexible. Most of my walking is in the Scottish Hills and most is in these shoes. I used to use terrocs but found they were a bit slippy on wet rock whereas the grip in the Roclites is superb.

This and this were done in Roclites and in the winter - like you - I've use sealskinz

ladyheart said...

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