Are natural running shoes better for your feet? - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

FOX Medical Team

Are natural running shoes better for your feet?

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If you are a chronic runner dogged by chronic injuries, the problem may be what you're wearing on your feet. Most running shoes today have a thick sole and heel. They're structured so you run on your heels.

It turns out they may not be such a good idea after all. So, which shoes are the best fit for you?

Natural running shoes are much leaner, much more stripped down. They allow you to land on the front of your foot. Natural runners say that's the way we were born to run.

Stephen Harvell has been running since junior high, and three years ago - battling nagging knee pain - the 33-year-old decided he had to find a better shoe.

"I wanted to run cleaner, run faster, run more efficient," said Harvell.

Harvell traded in his thick-soled, super-structured running shoes for barefoot runners.

"You can actually feel the ground, you feel the cracks in the sidewalk," Harvell said.

Now, instead of landing on his heels, Harvell lands on the front of his foot when he runs. And, it's made him faster.
"You're much more silent, you're much more efficient, you don't bounce up and down as much when you run, it's more of a smooth glide." Said Harvell.

At Highland Runners, Alec Sunwoo says these shoes are about getting back to the way our bodies were designed to run.

"This is about triggering muscles you've never used before, basically allowing them to go to work, " said  Sunwoo, who is the founder highland runners

Resurgens Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Gary Stewart, a runner, was a little skeptical about thick-heeled running shoes. But, watching the natural way kids run changed that.

"If you watch your 2-year-old, or even your 4-year-old, or even up to about six or eight, kids run kind of on the front of their foot," said Stewart.

The key is transition slowly to less structured shoes. If you like your shoes, Dr. Stewart says stick with them.

"If you had an injury and you're a runner and you love running, talk to your physician first and then give it a shot," said Stewart.

If you're interested in natural running shoes, the bottom line is taking baby steps. You don't want to go from a structured shoe to a completely flat one, and you may have to invest in several pairs to get to that perfect fit for your running style.

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