Bare Foot Running

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WHILE a pair of running shoes is the most basic item 'running' shoes to run. There is no concrete evidence to show that these running shoes lower the risk for most serious runners, shoes to run better. a growing number of them are ironically ditching their Many of these barefoot runners are inspired by Christopher McDougall's bestseller, BornTo Run, which documents the author's journey in discovering the secret of injuries, says MrAng, a seasoned marathoner, who used to spend a lot of
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  WHILE a pair of running shoes is the most basic item for most serious runners, a growingnumber of them are ironically ditching their shoes to run better. Many of these barefoot runners are inspired by Christopher McDougall's be- stseller, BornTo Run, which documents the author's jour-ney in discovering the secret behind theworld's greatestdistance lunners - Mexican Indian tribes that ran longdistances on thin sandals withoutinjury. According to McDougall,modern nrnning shoes are a major cause of running inju- ries. Mr Derrick Ang(right), 34, a research scientist who is pursuing a part-time PhD in NanyangTechnological University, was one of those so convinced by the bookthat he startedrunning in water booties last year.His target is to complete a full marathon running bare- footby 2012. From the book, I learnt that there is no need to wear'running' shoes to run. There is no concrete evidence to show that these running shoes lower the riskof injuries, says MrAng, a seasoned marathoner, who used to spend a lot of money on running shoes. People have been cured oftheir injuries by going barefoot.Thus, I hope to be able to spread this important message to fellow runners, especially those with chronic injuries, so that they areable $l &: .{ f h fr ?.. #i ,$ \\ g *ri$ rf !tll h, PHOTOS: CHONG JUN LIANG  toenjoyrunning as long as they possibly can. . As barefoot, running stresses an entirelydifferent group of muscles, doctors and podiatrists advisbthose planning to do it toapproach it step by step instead of plungrngheadlong into it.Dr RogerTian, consultant sports physician and dep- uty medicaldirector at theSingaporeSports Medicine Centre,explains: Our run-ning musclesare already ac- customed to shoes eversince wewere children. It will takemonths or even years for the muscles to unlearnwhat they are al-ready used to and for a new group of muscles to have thenecessarystrength and en-durance to complete a mara- thonbarefoot. Conventionalrunning shoes usually come with thick soles,hence promoting heel striking.Thistends to generate a greater impact on the legs as compared with barefoot mn- nerc, who tendto land on themidfootor forefoot. Thereare merits with landingon themidfootor forefoot. . Sports physician Dr Ben Tan from theChangi Sports MedicineCentre explains: Barefoot rgnning forces the runnerto land ginger$ and hencereduce impact forces. It alsoforces therunnerto land on the midfoot orfore-foot; thus improvingrunninggait and efficienry. Finally, it works the intrinsic muscles of the foot. On the flip side, with forefoot landing,there is in-, creased loadingon the fore-foot. This in turn increases the loadingin themetatarsalbones, Achillestendon and calf muscles.Hence, forefootlanding is associated with anincreased risk ofmetatarsal stress fractures, calf strains or tears, says DrTan,who trains once a month,not more than 6km each time, using theVibram FiveFingers shoeS. Theseshoes aredesigned as an alternative to tiadi-tional footwear.They fea- turethin,flexible soles that are contoured to the shape of the humanfoot, allowingwearers to replicatebeing barefoot. For those attempting-toswitchto barefoot running, DrTian advises: Start slow. For example, try barefoot walking for 30 minutes,and then try running for five min- utes. If there is nopain,mus- cle soreness or injury slowly increase the time spent run- ning barefoot. Starting with barefoot rurPing l'shoes such asVi-bram Five Fingers, or water booties inMrAng's case, is also a goodidea to conditionyour muscles. In recent years, commer- cialbrands such as Nike andNew Balancehavealso come up with shoemodels that fit into the 'lminimalist shoes category. New Balance will be launching four Minimus shoe modelsfor roadnurning, trail runningwalking andgeneral fibressthis month. Mr EugeneYeo, assistant marketingmanager of New BalanceSingapore, says: When integrated into train-ing correctly, Minimus shoes benefit runnersby providing a solution to a morenaturalandeconomical movement of running. These benefitsinclude adopting an effective nuuring form,building up the calf muscles and Achillestendon, enhancingthe sense of land- ing and facilitating control overthe mnning itself, as well as preventingphysical dam- ages and injuries. That said, barefootrun- ning is not for everyone, says Ms MarabelleHeng, a podia-trist from the depaitment of podiatry Singapore GeneralHospital. She explaini: .People with diabetes, peripheral vascular problems or neu- ropathy should avoid bare- foot running because theyare likely not able to per- ceive well with the feet, They may be pounding on the foot harderthan they should, and if they do sustain openwounds, they are likely to heal slower as well.
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