Sunday, November 30, 2014

What Happens On Your First Run In Minimalist Running Shoes

Nike Free 3.0 (left) and 4.0 (right)
Runners hate getting injured since they usually can't run while nursing an injury. To minimise injury, you can vary the impact forces by running on different surfaces, running at different speeds and running on different terrain. I wrote previously that rotating your running shoes can help prevent injury as it loads bones and soft tissue differently.

Vibrams have been taken to task for advertising that wearing their shoes can help you change your running gait and thus prevent injuries.

Now I have good news for runners wanting to try minimalist running shoes. Another study has shown that switching from conventional running shoes to Nike Frees does not change your running gait, which is great for those of you thinking of transitioning to minimalist running shoes provided your running technique is correct.

Researchers had runners who were used to running in conventional running shoes do three 10 minute runs. First 10 minutes in their normal shoes, then in Nike Free 3.0, and in their normal shoes again.

The researchers expected the runners would change their gait while running in the Nike Frees as they were unfamiliar with the shoes. (This is thought to increase injury risk as you need to get used to a different shoe).

The researchers were surprised to report that in trained runners, there was no change in lower limb variability while wearing minimalist shoes for the first time. It was similar when the runners switched back to their regular shoes.

My own personal take on this? As written previously, the Nike Free's are probably on the conservative end of minimalist running shoes (as compared to say Vibrams) and provide cushioning close to traditional running shoes. It may be different for minimalist shoes that are more minimalist.

Now while I'm writing on Nike Free's, remember I received 3 pairs of Nike Free's earlier this year? Well, I guess it's not too late for me to write a little on how the shoes feel since I've logged some decent miles in them.

Since late May this year I've been working a couple of half days at Physio Solutions. I usually try to run home after I'm done seeing patients there.

Well, I worked there 3 half days this week, which means I ran home 3x this week!! When I first started running home, I ran mostly in my 3.0's. Now I prefer the 4.0, mainly because the 3.0 seems to run a bit on the short length wise. Probably half a size smaller. My suspicions were confirmed when I put my 3.0's and 4.0's together. Though both were listed as size 7, the 3.0's were a tiny bit smaller.

Slight difference in length even though both same size
Width wise the 3.0's were pretty snug. Again I found it easier to put on and take off the 4.0's compared to the 3.0's. The 3.0's had a more "sock-like" feel compared to the 4.0's. Both have very soft midsoles. I sometimes try to cough deliberately when I'm running to pass someone as quite a few people who don't hear me have been startled when I run pass them.

As for my 5.0's,I've not run in them yet, just worn them for walking around.


Frank NS et al (2013). Lower Limb Kinematic Variability Associated With Minimal Footwear During Running. Footwear Sci. 5(3): 171-177.  DOI: 10.1080/1942480.2013.797505.

*Thanks to Andrew Kwong again for my 3 pair's of Nike Free's, to Andrea Goh for bringing them and Ernest Rodrigues and Duane Wee for previous Nike Free's.

My previous 5.0 all worn
The "pull-tab" makes it easier to wear

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