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Feeling the ground


Feeling the ground

The Hamilton man loves running au naturel but recognizes that his feet need some protection from the elements. So he's turned to a strange looking, minimalist type of footwear called the Vibram Five Fingers.


It's more of a glove Jamie Collins Patriots Jersey for the foot than a shoe, says Leaker, who has completed long distance races, including a 42 kilometre marathon, in this unusual footwear.


The shoe itself is made from either a thin, abrasion resistant stretch polyamide fabric or soft, tear resistant kangaroo leather, depending on the model.


His discovery: Leaker, 40, started running one year ago to improve his fitness level. He started with traditional running shoes but soon developed hip, knee and back pain.


In search of a solution, he started researching running techniques online and in magazines.


That's how he discovered barefoot running, a trend that has been gaining popularity in past years due to the bestselling book, Born to Run by Christopher Mcdougall. There have also been magazine articles and Harvard University research exploring the subject.


Running in shoes and running barefoot involve different strides and different muscles. In traditional running shoes, with their built up heels, most runners can't help but strike their heel first because they run heel to toe.


Barefoot runners tend to Tim Wright Jersey avoid landing on the heel because, without the Authentic Jamie Collins Jersey built up sole of a running shoe, it's painful. Instead, barefoot runners land with a forefoot or midfoot strike.


The Harvard study shows that most forefoot and Authentic Tim Wright Jersey some midfoot strikes don't generate the sudden, large impact of a heel strike.


That begs the question: Can high tech, well engineered running shoes actually cause knee, hip or back injuries because they're designed for people to run heel to toe?


Leaker believes that's the case. And last January he gave up running shoes in favour of barefoot running in Vibrams.


"For me it was transformational in both my running ability and my enjoyment of running," says Leaker, who ran 1,600 kilometres in his Vibrams before replacing them with a new pair in July.


"My knee, back and hip pain are gone. I feel like I'll be able to run into old age."


Advantages: By adopting this type of forefoot or midfoot running style whether wearing running shoes or not the jarring impact is greatly reduced, which can mean less chance of injury, Jamie Collins Jersey says Michael Pierrynowski, associate professor at McMaster University's school for rehabilitation science.


Pierrynowski first heard about Vibrams six months ago and although he hasn't tried them, he's familiar with the footwear and how it works.


A product like Vibrams could help cross train the foot, so a person isn't constantly running heel to toe, says Pierrynowski.


For barefoot runners, this type of footwear can also help protect skin on the soles of the feet from being worn down, he adds.


There's a theory that says feet stay healthier with barefoot running or in footwear such as Vibrams. That's because instead of being encased in traditional running shoes, feet constantly move and adjust to changing terrain.


This, in turn, may keep them stimulated and strong in a way that running shoes can't.


Vibrams are also lighter than running shoes, so there's less weight on the feet. This could help runners go further and faster because they're not moving the weight of shoes.


Disadvantages: On the other hand or in this case, foot lighter footwear could mean a less rigorous workout, says Pierrynowski.


For better or worse, Vibram wearers feel everything underfoot. When Tim Wright Patriots Jersey Leaker runs on trails, acorns are his worst enemy because he can feel the sharp pointy caps jabbing into his feet.


Leslie Trotter of the Foot Knee Back Clinic in Ancaster is a pedorthist, specializing in footwear and supportive devices for conditions affecting the feet Authentic Danny Amendola Jersey and lower limbs.


Trotter had a client who was a long distance runner and wore Vibrams for several weeks. He developed a "raging case" of Achilles tendinitis Danny Amendola Jersey irritation and inflammation of the large tendon in the back Danny Amendola Patriots Jersey of the ankle.


She advises people who choose barefoot running or running with footwear such as Vibrams to use trails or grassy parks where the ground is softer.


Yet the Harvard research gives the thumbs up to running barefoot on hard surfaces. It says that with proper forefoot or midfoot strike form, running on hard, rough surfaces can be comfortable and safe.


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