Running, Naturally

Bruce Springsteen was onto something: We were, in fact, born to run. The notion that jogging is bad, that it’s too hard on our joints and muscles, defies human history, which dates back to hunter-gatherer days when we chased down animals by foot.

The culprit of running injuries, it turns out, may be our footwear. In his recent book, Born to Run, Christopher McDougall argues that humans are meant to run barefoot, citing as proof tribes like the Tarahumara, a band of shoeless Mexicans who run hundreds of kilometres.

Scientists, doctors and coaches almost unanimously agree: No empirical evidence proves that shoes prevent injuries. In fact, shoes weaken our feet and toes, and screw with our natural gait, causing ankle, knee and back problems.

The solution? Go barefoot. But if you’re not keen to brave our beer bottle- and condom-riddled streets shoeless, then check out some of these options.

Vibram FiveFingers (pictured above)
These ultra-light foot-gloves have durable rubber composite soles to protect you from stray needles, and separate toe holes, which force the muscles between toes to lengthen, strengthen and improve balance. FiveFingers Sprint, US $80.

Vivo Barefoot
These eco-friendly shoes were created by Tim Brennan, a tennis player whose knee and ankle injuries disappeared after playing barefoot. He created the prototype by shaving down his soles until no arch or heel support remained. Aqua Blue Suede, US $150.

Nike Free

The Free offers some cushioning, but a sock-like mesh upper and flexible sole bring you a stride closer to shoelessness. Nike Free Everday +2, US $92, 1-800-663-6453.

Image courtesy of Steven Erdmanczyk on Flickr.

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