When our ancestors started walking and running around to hunt and gather, they did it barefoot.
As technology progressed, we learned to make footwear to protect our feet from the ground and all sorts of objects that we come across.
However, it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that running specific shoes were created by a company then known as Blue Ribbon Sports (which in 1978 became Nike).
Nike created a new trend for the running shoe: increase in cushioning, adding pronation control and giving it more stability and weight.
The advancement in the running shoe technology led to increasingly high-tech shoes with more and more cushioning and support that may have done more harm than good.
Running with full-sized shoes does increase the support and cushion to the foot, but the pain and stress is transferred elsewhere.
The elevated heels and extra weight of these shoes cause most runners to heel strike (heel hitting the ground first), which causes additional strain to knees.
To combat this effect, many enthusiasts have preferred to go back to basics and run barefoot, or at least use a minimalist shoe to imitate barefoot running but at the same time having a bit of protection for the foot.
There are at least two very good reasons why runners should switch to minimalist running shoes.
The first is that it encourages the runner to make a landing that is less strenuous to the body.
The second is that it brings the body back to the basics of running and actually utilizes more of the human body in creating a smooth, less injury-prone running form.
Using minimalist shoes, most runners will land comfortably with a midfoot strike (flat foot) or a forefoot strike (landing on the ball of the foot before bringing down the heel).
Several studies have claimed that running on hard surfaces with a midfoot or forefoot strike does not have the sudden large impacts to the knees and shin as compared to a heel strike.
Using minimalist shoes will allow runners to gradually move away from the traditional heel strike induced by previous generation running shoes to the more natural mid foot or forefoot strike and consequently reducing the strain on the body.
Running barefoot or using minimalist shoes will also allow the body to learn its natural good running form.
Running with little or no cushioning at the foot will allow your legs and feet feel the subtle changes in impact so you can then adjust your body to lessen that impact.
Traditional heavily cushioned running shoes will never offer this experience.
A person may never know that there is something wrong in the way he or she runs, which could be the cause of a long term injury.
For people who run great distances or for those who are heavier than most, it is essential to prevent injuries at the very basic level.
Using minimalist shoes does just that.
From casual runners to serious ultra-marathoners, the way ahead is clear: ditch the old, heavily cushioned running shoe and switch to a minimalist running shoe.
This will help you better in achieving a midfoot or forefoot strike that will be less strenuous and at the same time having to worry less about injuries to your body.