An article published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports (Peer Reviewed) titled Four-week habituation to simulated barefoot running improves running economy when compared with shod running has demonstrated that running economy can improve when wearing shoes that simulate being barefoot. Click here for abstract.
What does this mean?
To summarize it means that there are efficiency benefits to the form changes that occur when running in a minimalist shoe that can simulate being barefoot. In essence the more you can allow the foot and body to work as it was designed, the more efficient your running will be. Remember is not the shoes (FiveFingers) doing this, it’s the shoes allowing your body to run correctly. I am asked the question daily in regards to my shoe gear (typically FiveFingers) “are those comfortable?”. My answer, “they allow me to be comfortable”.
Let’s examine the article a little closer. What is running economy? Basically it’s how efficient you are able to run and in this study they used VO2 max, heart rate, stride frequency, and perceived exertion to measure this objectively. This study took 15 runners and obtained measurements before and after a four week familiarization period in Vibram FiveFingers. Measurements were taken in shoes pre and post, and in FiveFingers pre and post. The hypothesis was that it is not the direct of the shoes improving running economy, rather its the effect of them allowing you to gradually become more efficient over time. This is exactly what the study proved. There was a 6.9% improvement in efficiency according to what was measured at the end of the four week adaptation period to Vibram FiveFingers.
By gradually adapting to a running gait or pattern that simulates being barefoot, you can train the body to run more efficiently. This was only over four weeks. Imagine what a year can do!