Five-Fingered Footwear Turns Heads
Barefoot running shoes are one of the fitness world’s hottest trends. The unusual looking, five-fingered footwear is designed to make users feel as though they’re running barefoot.
“You bounce all over the place, you feel completely lightweight,” said Austin Sprague, an avid runner. “You don’t have this stuff on your feet. If I wear normal tennis shoes now, it feels like I’m wearing pieces of iron.”
Sprague has been using the barefoot shoes for years now, and he’s addicted. He seldom wears regular running shoes anymore. The shoes have gained considerable popularity in the past two years as many major shoe labels, like Nike and New Balance, have come out with their own barefoot designs.
“We’re seeing more people than we did two years ago when we started carrying them,” said Thac Lecong, the Merchandise Manager for FrontRunners, a running store in Brentwood. “More brands are offering them, there’s a lot more choices, a lot more options. People are wearing them for everything now.”
Dr. Ali Sadrieh, a podiatrist in Studio City, hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon. He tested the shoes by wearing them for 30 days straight and he found that they could cause injuries to runner who aren’t used to running barefoot. Dr. Sadrieh explained that using the barefoot shoes put pressure on a different set of tissues, since they have thinner soles than regular running shoes. This can cause such injuries as metatarsal stress fractures, increase in neuromas, increases in ligament inflammation injuries and planner plate injuries. He believes that going “barefoot” is a step in the wrong direction for shoe design.
“If we live in a civilized world, why don’t we take shoes and make them technologically advanced to accommodate for the concrete world,” he said.
A recent study at Harvard University found that there is no conclusive evidence either in support or in opposition of the footwear. The researchers stressed that there is a significant need for more studies to be conducted. Sprague, however, isn’t convinced that the shoes can cause injury. In fact, he believes they can prevent it. “I’ve never had any leg injuries from wearing these,” Sprague said.
“I’ve had several friends that have fixed their leg injuries.” He hopes that runners will decide for themselves whether barefoot running shoes are the right option for their feet.