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Minimalist Footwear vs. Maximum Comfort

November 8, 2011

Vibram Five Fingers Is less really more?  That’s what people are wondering when they look at new “minimalist” or “barefoot” footwear like the Vibram Five Fingers® “shoes” shown here.  Proponents of these shoes argue that going barefoot, or barely covering the feet, is the most biomechanically natural way to go. Well, that may have been true when humans were hunter/gatherers on the African savannah. But what about modern men and women who spend most of their lives working and walking on concrete and pavement?

Z-CoiL and its sibling product line, Bio-Trek, take quite the opposite approach.  Engineered as “pain relief footwear,” they instead provide wearers with maximum support and shock-absorption to reduce, and even help prevent pain and injury to feet, joints, and backs.

We asked Al Gallegos, the inventor of Z-CoiL shoes and a long-time runner, for his opinion.  He says, sure, minimalist shoes may have a role to play — in water sports, or as boating shoes. But not as running gear.

“One of the most efficient forms of running is landing on the heel,” Al explains, “and if you attempt that with a minimalist shoe, you would not last very long on the road.”  Considering that Al is still running at  80 years of age, he may know something about going the distance in the right footgear! (He’s shown here competing in the 2011 Senior Games wearing prototype Bio-Treks.)

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