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Feet that are mostly confined inside restrictive, padded shoes tend to grow weak and deformed, according to Dr. William Rossi. We can save our children from this fate by purchasing proper shoes that allow freedom of movement. The American Podiatric Medical Association recommends “... lightweight, flexible footwear made of natural materials.” The goal is to wear shoes that do not interfere with natural foot function.

analogy. He likens the use of the modern running shoe to our reliance on baby formula in the mid-20th century. Through clever marketing and the endorsement of the medical community, baby formula manufacturers convinced the American public that their formula was superior to a mother’s natural breast milk. A few decades later, research totally disproved the claim.

Of course, there are some condi- tions under which minimalist shoes can be highly advantageous, such as on rough trails or in extreme temperatures. In these cases, a minimalist shoe that al- lows the body to run in the most natural manner can work well. That generally means flat-soled shoes without a raised heel, but with a wide toe box that allows toes to spread out; these are typically made of lightweight, flexible materials.

Barefoot Tips

For anyone interested in barefoot run- ning, learning about it may be as simple as kicking off your shoes. Most people

can successfully make the transition by reacting to the tactile feedback they re- ceive from the ground or other amena- ble surface. Everyone will benefit from these few basic tips from the experts:

n Keep an upright posture n Take very short, light, quick steps n Land on the ball of the foot, and then gently allow the heel to touch the surface

n Keep knees bent and arms and legs relaxed

n Be patient; start with a quarter-mile and then slowly increase distance

Barefoot running allows individuals to push their limits and reach new running goals. So, try taking your shoes off and have some fun!

Jason Robillard is a barefoot running instructor, founder of Barefoot Running University, co-founder of the Barefoot Runners Society and author of The Barefoot Running Book. He also con- sults for the shoe industry. Watch for news of his family’s cross-county tour this summer at BarefootRunning and their blog, Robillar-

Exercise should be regarded as tribute to the heart. ~Gene Tunney

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