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Training Barefoot

On Jumping on Entrepreneurship

I'm sure we've all heard about people who train barefoot. A lot of us have looked at them like they're crazy. Shoes give added support, cushioning, and protection to the foot, right?

Well, is it right? First lets look at some anecdotal evidence:

Shoes are a fairly recent invention, being only several thousands of years old. The Hominini tribe, the earliest ancestors of Homo-sapiens genus, divulged from their Pan genus brethren 6.3 million years ago. The human foot, and all the body's supporting mechanisms for the foot, evolved over millions of years to be fairly good at what it does. We could probably trace the evolution of the human foot even farther back, but lets go from there. Human feet were designed to be walked on. Shoes stop you from walking on them.

You are probably wearing shoes right now. Take them off, and put one on your desk. Look at it. Do you see how the toe is curved upward? This is done so it is even possible to walk in shoes.

When you walk barefoot, you strike with the middle of the heel, rolling forward onto the balls of the feet, and then there is a powerful push-off from the balls of the feet. When running, they were designed to strike in the midfoot, not the heel. Shoes alter your gait - when you walk in shoes, the back of your heel strikes first, and your foot rolls forward, and then you push off your toes which creates a rocking motion. When you run with shoes, it feels "natural" to run heel-to-toe, which causes a jarring shock to your ankles and knees. High heels exacerbate problems caused by an unnatural position of the foot. They cause different and unnatural stresses on the bones of the foot, the ankle, the knee, up to the pelvis and even through the shoulders. It raises the heel, which is the foot's natural supporter of weight, by an inch, two inches, sometimes even four or five inches! The entire weight of the body is transferred to the ball of the foot, while the pelvis and the shoulders tilt to compensate for the difference in weight distribution.

Parkour Shoes and Reviews

On Jumping on Entrepreneurship

As parkour has grown in popularity, a lot of companies have created and sold parkour shoes. A lot of people ask me what is the best shoe for parkour, so I’ve put together this guide to the most common shoes people might suggest for parkour. This is by no means an exhaustive list, these are just the most common ones that I have enough experience with to review.

One quick note: I am a big fan of minimalist shoes. There’s a lot of research out there that shows that the more padding and cushioning a shoe has, the MORE damage it does to your feet, knees, and hips. That’s out of the scope of this article though.

Full disclosure: In early 2010 I received some free Ariakes from K-Swiss. This has not influenced my review, but I wanted to be transparent.

K-Swiss Ariake [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="K-Swiss Ariake Parkour Shoe"][/caption]Price: Around $100

Description: This was the first shoe created and marketed specifically for Parkour. They’re made by K-Swiss. They sent a lot of free pairs out to traceurs a few years ago to help spread the word about being a Parkour shoe. Many people wearing Ariakes got theirs for free, either directly from K-Swiss or from someone who got them from K-Swiss. They also come in lots of different (and crazy) colors, which can be a pro or a con depending on your preference. :)

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