The Midfoot Strike Running Revolution is Happening - Chi Running

The Midfoot Strike Running Revolution is Happening

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Fri Sep 4th, 2009, 15 comments

In case you missed it, there was an article in last Sunday’s NY Times about how the “barefoot running” trend is effecting the shoe industry. Actually, it’s not so much a barefoot trend as it is a current upsurge in the questioning of the running shoe company’s ability to produce a shoe that actually has any effect on running injuries. ChiRunning was named as one of the organizations helping to promote good running technique and endorsing more of a minimal shoe approach to running.

The big debate is whether or not building more cushioning and structure into running shoes has the advertised effect or if it’s just another case of corporate marketing looking for an effective way to sell shoes to an uneducated populace. Well, in answer to the first part of the debate, as we’ve seen by the percentage of runners who get injured every year, nothing has changed since running shoes for the general public began being produced in the 1970′s. If anything, the injury rate has gone up. And, in answer to the second part of the big debate, yes, it seems to have been a very good marketing ploy that sold gazillions of shoes to people thinking that they’d be safe in their running by buying the right shoe.

I’m so thankful that articles like this are starting to surface in the national media. More attention needs to be paid by the shoe industry to make shoes that fit the needs of an ever-growing population of runners who are working on changing their running form, to prevent injuries, instead of thinking that the right shoe will do the job. For ten years now ChiRunning and ChiWalking classes have been teaching runners and walkers how to run and walk pain-free, injury-free and faster. Check out our schedule of classes if you’re interested. And, while you’re there, check out the results of a West Virginia University poll done with 2500 ChiRunners which reports remarkable findings on the effectiveness of running technique improvement on injury rates.

There are a number of forward thinking shoe companies out there that are working on producing less of a shoe and that’s good news for those of us who are no longer willing to suffer through the over-built “corrective” shoes that have been the norm since the running boom started in the ’70′s. actually almost all of the running shoe companies sell shoes that are perfectly good for the midfoot striker…but many runners are scared away by the model name “racing flat.” Most racing flats have all the great attributes a midfoot runner craves: lots of flexibility in the sole, great ventilation, very minimal lift in the heel and (until the secret gets discovered by the shoe companies) a cheap price. I wear NB-790′s which cost $45 online (while the supply lasts) and which, in the past few years, have been one of the best selling running shoes NB has ever produced.  But, as with all great running shoes…they’ve decided to quit producing what I’ve considered the perfect shoe. Go figure. I’m now looking at FiveFingers, Adizeros, La Sportiva, and yes, even the Nike Free for the next “ideal” shoe.

Viva la revolution!

p.s. Since the article in the NY Times came out it is the 8th most emailed article.



  • running,
  • midfoot strike,
  • barefoot running,
  • chirunning,
  • running shoes,
  • running classes,
  • training

15 CommentsLeave a comment below

Just asking ... why don’t you wear the NB 800?

I was hoping you could give some comment on the Vibram Five Fingers.  Here’s their website.  I was thinking about using them for TaiChi, but saw that they could be used for running as well.

I don’t run on the MF800’s because they’re a little too much of a shoe for me. Although they’re a great transitional shoe for someone moving from a heel strike to a midfoot strike, they’re a bit over-built for me. NB put cushioning in the midfoot where it isn’t really needed because the lateral part of the sole of your foot has plenty of padding already. I also run mostly trails and I can’t recommend the 800’s for trail running because they are uncomfortable to run in on a side-sloping trail. But, for flat running, they’re great.

Thanks, way to go in the the trail championships !

I just ordered a pair of NB 790’s from Famous Footwear in Fountain Hills, AZ after seeing one pair on the shelf but of course not my size.  They will ship right to my house for no additional charge.  They told me they were showing 56 pairs in their warehouse - not sure if she meant my size or total number. I look forward to trying them out.  I did pick up a pair of Nike Eclipse to try also - supposed to have the Nike Free type sole but with lower profile heel that allows for natural foot strike.  Thanks a bunch for great workshop in Pasadena - hope to catch another one or consider instructor training.

I’ve been wearing Mizuno Wave Revolver, a racing flat from a company whose shoes I generally like. They give a good feel of the ground when off pavement. Too bad NB is dropping their line.

The NB100 Race Flat is based off the 790

Henri Henell Sep 26th, 2009 10:10pm

Hey, About shoes: Have you ever tried Feelmax shoes, it’s a company in Finland which make really perfect shoes to “barefooters”. I think now in spring 2010 it’s coming running shoe Osma with 2,1 mm sole. Check

I’m trying to get in contact with the folks at Feelmax to try a pair of their shoes. The look great and I can hardly wait to get my hands (feet) on a pair. I’ll let you know how they are after I try them out. I’ve heard great reports on them so far.

Hey, if the Mizunos work for you..stay with them. We can’t wait for NB to get their act together.

I have been using the Vibram Five Fingers for Tai Chi, and they are wonderful for this, expecially when doing the form on rough or paved areas.  I have also been running with them.  However, a word of caution: start out very very slowly when starting to run in them, and don’t try to go to far.  Some guy who writes for the Health Section in the Washington Post got a pair of five fingers and tried to do his regular run in them off the bat, and ended up hurting himself.  From my own experience, I was barely going above a walk pace for the first few runs, and maybe about half-mile to a mile at most.  You will definitely feel the difference.  It is absolutely necessary that you maintain your Chi-Running posture while running in these shoes.  The other day I was out and opened up my pace and got some terrible calf cramps because I had let my posture go.  However, the feeling of running in these shoes is quite nice when done correctly.

Void Pointer » The right mid-foot shoe for t Nov 13th, 2009 08:39am

[...] drunk the mid-foot kool-aid from ChiRunning, the ideas were reinforced after reading Born to Run.  Mano’s experience with barefoot running was hugely [...]

Any comment on specifically the Newton shoe for chi walking, not running?  A shoe salesperson told me that walking does not sufficiently activate the forefoot bars and that there would be ankle instability.  They felt very comfortable on the treadmill in the store.  I wear NB minimus for lower miles but am looking for something with a little more substance for higher mileage.

Danny Dreyer Jun 24th, 2011 09:44am

Hi Diane,
The Newton shoes are usually for people who are looking to enhance performance when running. So, just as the salesperson said, we wouldn’t recommend them for walking. For runners and walkers alike, we recommend sticking with a minimal shoe. I know you said you want something with a little more substance, but as long as you’re practicing the Chi Walking technique, there’s no need for an over built shoe. The minimus should be fine to walk in. However, if you are looking for something a step up, you could always put in an insert. As for other minimal shoes, look into the Nike Frees, Asics Piranhas, Merrells barefoot line, or Mizuno. Hopefully this helps some, Diane. Good luck!

very nice blog

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