What began as a niche has truly gone mainstream. Natural running, whether in a minimal shoe or no shoes at all, is a growing trend.
Many runners are giving up cushioned support in favor of a more natural running experience. And while minimalist running does have its benefits, it’s important to make the switch safely. Here, we tackle four of the most common myths about natural running and provide tips to for a healthy transition.
Myth 1: Less is Always More
This myth states that you are giving your feet more strength by using less cushioning. But when it comes to feet, too little can be as harmful as too much. Each runner has different strengths and weaknesses in their foot, which means there’s no one level of stability, protection and flexibility that’s right for everyone. When you’re choosing the right running shoes, it’s important to find the heel elevation, midsole, cushioning and stability that works for you.
Myth 2: Midfoot is Always Best
This myth has its heart in the right place, but it’s stemming from a one-size-fits-all philosophy that the only way to land is on the midfoot, but this is assuming that everyone’s bodies are built in the same way. When it comes to landing, it’s important to encourage your foot to move through the stride as efficiently as possible, which may or may not be from landing on your midfoot.
Myth 3: There is One Pair of Miracle Shoes
While a lighter, more natural shoe can be an incredible way to strengthen the whole foot, it’s important to do it safely. Making a sudden transition from cushioned to minimalist shoes can do more damage to a weak arch, muscles or ligaments than good. Alternating between your usual running shoe and a more minimal shoe can be a great way to get all-over strength back into the foot, while minimizing the risk of injury.
Myth 4: Support and Cushioning are for Rookies
No matter how much you run, an uncomfortable running experience is never good for your feet or your mind. Modern running surfaces are tough on the feet, so it’s important to protect them from shock. It’s about finding the right kind of protection – the type that protects the foot only when it needs protecting, giving it freedom and flexibility the rest of the time.
To truly find the right fit for your foot and running style, it pays to evaluate your gait and overall level of strength in your feet. If you’ve never run barefoot or with natural running shoes, start by slowly incorporating this option into your run. And if running naturally isn’t for you, don’t force it. Many novice and seasoned marathon runners cross the finish line wearing cushioned running shoes. The most important thing is that you are investing in the support your individual body needs.
Ready to give natural running a try?