Running Shoe Diaries: Less is Better?

If you are talking swimsuits, debt, golf scores, or bad cholesterol I would be inclined to agree with you. In a society where it seems more is always better, Nike decided to break that mold a bit with their minimalist shoe: The Nike Free. Like the Vibram Five Finger shoe, it was designed with the idea of simulating, as close as possible, the barefoot gait and provide a less constrictive fit.

The Nike Free was introduced in 2004 after Nike observed athletes running barefoot.

The Nike free offers different levels, depending on how close to the barefoot experience you wish to partake in. The shoes are labeled as Nike 3.0 and increasing to Nike 7.0. The number signifies the level of cushioning provided. The 3.0 has little cushioning (closest to barefoot) while the 7.0 is heavily cushioned (more toward a normal shoe).

As was discussed in the prior episode of The Running Shoe Diaries, there are concerns you must be aware of before deciding to buy this type shoe.

To review quickly: a barefoot gait increases stress on the body. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments must respond appropriately to these added forces. This can lead to various types of injuries. By reducing the cushioning effect of the shoe, you are now asking the foot and thus the body, to manage forces it may not be used to on a more regular basis. You may even sacrifice the support of the shoe as you reduce the cushion. An individual with a low arch, who needs support, might find very little benefit from this type of shoe. Likewise for someone with ankle instability. The lack of support may increase the chance for an ankle injury.

Like the Vibram, Nike encourages their clientele to gradually transition from their regular shoe gear to these. Again, I am in no way telling you not to buy this brand or type of shoe. As with anything new, I encourage and implore you to research the product to find out if said product is safe for you. Or contact Dr. Bowman, a former runner at 713-467-8886 or online appointments and a wealth of information at

Category: Footwear

Tags: ankle injuries, Footwear, Minimalist Shoes, Nike, Running, Running Shoes, Vibram FiveFingers