Have you heard of the term natural running? Natural running is very similar to running barefoot. Your center of gravity is forward, and you land in your sweet spot – not on your heel, not on your toes. Heel striking is very different than natural running. The jarring impact of a heel strike kills forward momentum. Plus, your body must adjust from the impact of up to 3x your body weight on your heel.
When natural running, you don’t land on your heels but instead on your midfoot/forefoot. This allows your heel to settle towards the ground. Research suggests that natural running is the fastest and most efficient way to run.
Unfortunately, most of us do not have a natural running style. To make matters worse, most running shoes are not designed for natural running. The type of footwear that you run in influences the style of running that you adopt. Therefore the easiest way to change your running style is to change your running shoes. Minimalist running shoes have less cushioning, no support and are always neutral allowing your feet to function as though they were barefoot. However, if you suddenly change your footwear to minimalist footwear your are likely to injure yourself as a result of the new stress on your body.
We’ve found a great company that makes shoes specifically designed to transition you to a natural running style. Inov-8 recommends a gradual transition to minimalist shoes. They offer shoes with gradual levels of heel to toe drop, cushioning and support to help runners with the transition. Some of our customers are buying these shoes to transition their style before purchasing barefoot shoes from Merrell or Vibram FiveFingers. Yes, we carry those too.
Inov-8 has done lots of research, and you can read it here.