When you are a runner, you want to make sure you get your hands (or rather your feet!) on the best rated running shoes. Having good shoes can make a big difference to your performance. Lately there has been a lot of focus on natural running.
When it comes to the most effective way to run, many people believe that the minimalistic or barefoot method of running is the best for your body. The difference between natural running and “normal” running is the way the foot lands. Natural runners land on the mid-foot, while non-natural runners land on the heel.
This type of barefoot or natural running shoes has become increasingly popular, thanks in large part to the book “Born to Run”. This book became an instant bestseller. In it there is a long theory about why it is more natural to land on the mid-foot. The writer describes his own journey from an injury-riddled existence to becoming an ultra-distance runner. This is just one of the story lines in the book, it’s a great book. It’s got quite some running tips, but above all there is a great story in it. And the message you get left with at the end of the book is clearly that the author believes that you can achieve better results with natural running.
The debate has raged for many years: is barefoot running good for you? Are natural running shoes the best running shoes? Is barefoot running actually better than heel landing? The reason that most proponents of natural running argue for this running method is that it is the natural way to run. The mid-foot is the strongest part of the foot and best placed to deal with the shock of landing.
Natural runners argue that heel-landers are the ones that get injuries like achilles tendinitis, shin splints, etc. They say that landing on your heel allows your muscles to become lazy. And that thanks to the barefoot style of running, your body gets far better results from your running.
Running barefoot is tough and on most surfaces not desirable. Therefore there is now footwear that promotes mid-foot landing. There are a number of men’s shoes that stand out as being the best rated running shoes for natural runners:
Newton Running Shoes
The Newton brand of Natural Running shoes are designed to provide maximum support for your foot without causing any unnatural arching. These shoes use the best support for neutral pronation of the foot, and they are actually designed to mold according to the shape of the foot for maximum comfort as you run.
Nike released the Free pair of men’s running shoes for those who life minimalistic running. These shoes provide more support for the midsole of the foot by having a wider base, and the forefoot grooves in the front help to ensure that the shoe remains flexible. They are not only useful for running, but they help to make regular and pace walking much easier for those who like to walk on either grass or concrete.
The Vibram Fivefingers brand of shoes is a completely unique concept of minimalistic shoes. Rather than being designed in the standard shoe style, they are designed to fit the feet and toes like a glove. They provide ample support for the foot without detracting from the minimalistic feel that barefoot runners are trying to achieve.
The Saucony Kinvara shoes are some of the best natural running shoes, and have even won a number of awards as being the best running gear of the year. They are designed to provide the most natural support to your feet as you run, which will enable you to run naturally with less discomfort.
Brooks Green Silence
The Brooks Green Silence shoe is designed to be an eco-friendly shoe that saves the planet while you run. 75% of the materials used in the shoe are recycled, and they are some of the most environmentally friendly shoes on the market. They are also incredibly lightweight, making your running feel much more natural without the weight of shoes adding effort to your running.
These five pairs of shoes are amongst the best rated running shoes for natural runners. They will ensure that you feel completely at ease while you run. The complete comfort of these natural shoes has been highly lauded by professional runners and athletes, and all of these shoes promote the natural landing which many runners currently aspire to.
What is Wisdom?
There are some strong arguments for mid-foot landing. But should you fix your style of running when you currently don’t have any problems with injuries? Not in a hurry. Should you go from heel running to mid-foot landing without adjustment period if you want to switch? Definitely not.
My running buddies and I have been getting good results with making small changes to our technique over time. This includes small bouts of natural or barefoot running (e.g. as a warm-up or cooling-down), in total maybe for 15-20km per week.
In a recent interview in a running magazine Alberto Salazar, a former world record holder, provided some good running tips. He works for Nike and he said that he told his athletes to use the Nike Free for 10-15 miles per week and do the rest of their running on conventional running shoes that provide more support. He sees both types of shoes equally as essential to top performance. Conventional running shoes help you logging the miles and the natural running shoes help you improve your running technique.
And that balanced view is a healthy one. Want to experiment with natural running? Then make sure you check out some of those best rated running shoes for natural running described above. They are all top level running shoes for minimal running and will help transform your running style.
As a last running tip: just make sure you ease into them and give your feet time to adjust. Changing your running style which you have developed over the course of your lifetime is best done one step at a time!