Sole Man: 12 Things We Learned About Minimalism

A lot of new running gait studies have emerged in recent years, but they haven't cleared up the debates about proper form and footwear. Photo:

Minimalism Spurred New Science — And Pseudo-Science

Running gait science is making huge strides (pun intended), but it is still in its infancy. For the past several years, it has seemed like there has been a new study every month about running form. Some have suggested barefoot running was the best way to run. But a few studies contradicted that notion. Some studies said running with a forefoot gait is optimal. Others suggest humans are predominantly heel-strikers and that’s OK, except for when we change the surface on which we’re running.

Many recent studies claim it’s all about running with a high cadence. Still other “findings” confirmed what common sense has told us for years, notably that you can train yourself to run better by being aware of form cues and strengthening your body with drills will help reduce form breakdowns when fatigue sets in.

The minimalism movement (especially within the barefoot realm) has also produced dozens of zealots and gurus who offered their own insights to running form and the style of footwear. So what should we believe with so much chatter bombarding us? Like religion, running-gait science offers up a lot of questions with few definitive answers. To each their own.

But experienced runners know that the way to maximize your running economy (in other words, to expend the least amount of energy for any distance or pace) comes through a combination of training, repetitive form and strength drills and the appropriate shoes specific to a particular type of running and an individual’s running style, foot shape, current physical makeup and even past injury history. (Personally, I like flatter, lower-to-the-ground shoes when I run fast and more cushioned shoes when I run long, but that’s an apples-to-oranges discussion, which illustrates the point that there is no definitive answer.) For some people, though, it comes down to which neon color they like best, and that’s probably fine, too.

Privacy Policy | Contact

Recent Stories