Nike has developed a line of shoes called the Nike Free that has become very popular among long distance runners, track and field athletes, and football and basketball players. Nike Free is unique because it has a special design incorporating new technology that simulates barefoot running mechanics while still wearing shoes. The goals that barefoot running technique strives to reach, and that Nike Free has adapted, is attempting to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the foot and leg thus preventing long term injuries.
Although Nike Free has become popular among runners there are some important things to take into consideration when deciding to buy these shoes or not.
1) Versions – If you do a little research on the Nike Free you will come to find out that there are actually many different versions of this shoe. The Nike Free can be ordered on a scale of 10.0 to 3.0 with 10.0 being the most supportive shoe and the 3.0 being the least supportive and most similar to barefoot running.
2) Ease into the Shoes – If you have never done any barefoot running, or ran in any minimalist shoes that strive to achieve the same goal as Nike Free shoes, then it is important to ease your way into these shoes. It is recommended to start off running a mile in these shoes and then gradually increasing your distance based on your body’s response to the shoes.
3) They aren’t for everyone – Although Nike is continuously trying to find ways to make small changes and adding versions to the Nike Free to allow the largest population of runners to use them, these shoes still aren’t for everyone. If you don’t run consistently, need extra-cushioned running shoes, or are prone to ankle sprains, I would not recommend these shoes to you. The Nike Free is really built for routine runners with no other major foot problems. Furthermore, barefoot-style running requires significant changes in running mechanics to be successful. If you run in these shoes just as you would in a structured running shoe, you will put yourself at risk for becoming injured.
Nike Free technology has really changed the face of running shoes, opening a whole new vision into what running shoes could do for your feet and body. Although these shoes are becoming increasingly more popular in the running community, these shoes simply aren’t for everybody. Be sure to visit with your sports podiatrist who can help recommend the right shoe for you.