Who would have thought more cushion for the feet could have a negative effect on your body during outdoor activities? In Christopher McDougall's book, Born to Run, he talks about how he went from being a runner that was constantly injured, to one that was "unbreakable and unstoppable" all because he started running barefoot. He goes on to explain that so much emphasis is put on making sure you have the right supportive footwear when really it's all about the technique, just like any other sport. As running shoes continue to become more supportive and cushioned it forces the runner to land in an unnatural way which causes more injures and damage to the body. He dug into researching why running shoes are considered so important and what he found was nothing. "Because there is no evidence that running shoes do anything to prevent injuries. None. In fact, research currently in progress indicates that runners in shoes experience far more impact than runners in bare feet."
While this running barefoot debate continues, it is becoming increasingly more popular to wear something that protects just the sole of the foot from glass and other objects, while offering no other support. What would that be you might ask? Vibram Five Fingers is a protective glove for your feet that allow you to still feel the ground underneath you, but stay protected because of the rubber sole. While I was home visiting a few weeks ago I was able to try these out; My mom had ordered a pair after a seeing a man wearing them hiking while they were on a vacation at the Grand Canyon. They take a few minutes to get use to because it literally is a glove on your foot and most people aren't use to that feeling. After the awkwardness wears off you can really get a sense of the appeal. To be able to go hiking and have your feet conform to the rock underneath it instead of possibly slipping is a pretty neat thing. The Vibram Five Fingers cost anywhere between $75.00- $110.00, which is similarly priced to regular running shoes. These "shoes" may get you a few weird looks, as their not as popular in America yet as in Europe, but if you're big into outdoor sports it might be worth the risk.