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Study finds toe shoes are bad for your health

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You can spot a proponent of barefoot-style running a mile away, thanks to their hideous neoprene “shoes” with a separate space for each toe. Sometimes you can hear them from a mile away, too, ranting and raving about how the foul footwear has changed their lives.

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But we’ve always been a little dubious. Something that looks so bad can’t be that good. Most people’s down-there digits just aren’t fun to look at. Attractive, traditional footwear not only covers those puppies up, but also can protect your toesies from disease and maiming.

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So it’s gratifying to learn that real, live scientists have determined that toe-shoes like Vibrams might not be all that great for your gait.

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The barefoot-style shoes are supposed to cut down on injury and improve running form because their lack of heel padding promotes a forefoot landing, TheВ New York Times explains. Whether or not landing on the front of your foot is actually healthy, though, is what scientists have been wondering.

toe shoes


A study in last month’s Journal of Applied Physiology looked into the efficiency of forefront-running, having 37 runners alternate between forefront and heel-striking running. The results might send marathoners scurrying back to their old-school chunky sneaks. From theВ Times:

“‘In the end, this data showed that heel-striking was the more physiologically economical running form, by a considerable margin. Heel strikers used less oxygen to run at the same pace as forefoot strikers, and many of the forefoot strikers used less oxygen-meaning they were more economical-when they switched form to land first with their heels.”

So, the study says, those who use the forefront-strike style tend to tire out more quickly.В Also, about a third of runners who’d used barefoot-style shoes said they attributed injuries to the glorified ’90s toe-socks. This doesn’t mean that barefoot-style running is bad for everyone, per se. It just shows that wearing super minimalist footwear may not be the cure-all that its devotees claim it is.

Anybody who walks around in cheapo plastic H&M flats canВ vouch for that.

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