The cavemen did it—ran, jumped, foraged—with no shoes on, so why should we have to lug around heavy sneakers just to jog a couple miles? It’s a good question, and perhaps why people are so excited about the new lightweight sneaker trend.
Brands like Nike and Sketchers (and surely more to come) have released running shoes specifically designed with less material in order to let your feet move more naturally. The idea is to get you closer to a barefoot experience, which will, over time, increase strength in your feet and legs and leave you with a tighter, more toned physique.
So are the Nike Free and Skechers GOrun shoes the best new fitness item or just another gimmick? We asked an expert. Dr. Jason Karp, trainer and author of Running for Women, says these shoes can certainly be helpful, but only for specific people and activities.
“For most runners, I wouldn’t suggest [them], as [they] can contribute to Achilles tendonitis and calf muscle strain. They put a lot of stress on the muscles and tendons of the lower leg,” he says. “However, that stress can also make the anatomical structures stronger, so for runners who are not overweight and have already been running for a while, the shoes can be good if used sparingly.”
That means that if you aren’t already a marathon runner, it’s best to stick to a more traditional shoe with more support. “[These shoes] were developed for distance runners,” says Karp, “but for beginner and recreational runners, who go from the couch to the marathon in five months … [they] will likely hinder them. For these people, they can still be worn, but “for walking or doing other kinds of fitness workouts in the gym.”
Need help finding the right sneakers? Read these tips.
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