I’ve been asked quite a few times lately what I think of those FiveFinger shoes, aka Barefoot runners, Skeletoes, etc. You know what they are…those shoes that look like Rubber Feet.* Remember toe socks? Like those, but made outa rubber.
The thinking behind Rubber Feet is that modern-day running shoes provide too much support and cushion, therefore changing the biomechanics of running, causing injury. They use the example of how children run before they walk, and that they seem to launch at full speed everywhere sans shoes. They also claim that cavemen used to run for miles and miles just fine sans fancy shoes. Apparently donning Rubber Feet is like being barefoot, but with a thin barrier between you and the earth. Call it, Paleolithic-old-school and the answer to pain-free running.
Here’s what I think (brace yourself). First of all… sure, kids run like crazy for a few yards in the grass or inside the house, not down the road for 10k, or up some single track covered with rock. The caveman point is especially fun as I’ve never seen a caveman that didn’t appear to have walked all hunched over looking like he was in unbearable pain. My guess is, his feet his back and everything else hurt because he spent all day running on rock! Not only that, but cavemen only lived for about 20 years. I bet if they had to run around for another 30 years sans shoes they’d have figured out how to stitch up some nice fat pads for their trashed tootsies.
Basically, I don’t buy the Rubber Feet hype. In my mind it doesn’t add up, they look incredibly stupid, they make an annoying slapping sound as they trot along, more seriously, I’ve never once seen a person wearing them that didn’t look like they were in severe pain. During my last half marathon (on the trail) my Asics Trail Runners and me started just behind a young man wearing a pair of Rubber Feet. When the whistle blew the man took off running, a mile and a half up the road I passed him as he limped along delicately navigating each small pebble in the trail. I never saw him again, guessing he didn’t finish.
If your feet hurt when you run then you need to learn how to run properly. If you don’t support proper running form and mechanics, your shoe choice will not change anything. Learn proper running form and then play around with footwear if you like. My suggestions, hire a running coach, attend a clinic or take a class. Don’t just jump on the Rubber Feet bandwagon.
Now…I realize that I’m not being completely fair, as I have not personally tried to run in Rubber Feet. I am only sharing my educated opinion. With that, if you wish to prove me wrong and or convince me that running in Rubber Feet is a good thing, I invite you to send me a pair and I will happily try them, and revise my post accordingly. I take a size 9.
P.s. If you want to run barefoot, go to the beach and run in the sand. That’s something I approve of whole-heartedly. Stand tall, pick your knees up and have fun!