Star runner who hates shoes gives ‘Frees a good grade
Michael Sandler hates shoes. He goes barefoot just about everywhere, including the 100-or-so miles a week that he runs. Sandler has much to say about running shoes-after all, he’s a professional athlete who has coached many others and competed internationally in a number of sporting events. Ask him about any running shoe that’s designed to mimic barefoot running movement and chances are, he’ll offer scathing criticism with no mercy. Nike Frees are the one exception-their popularity has merit.
Among the very many “barefoot” running shoes on the market nowadays is the low-profile Nike Free. It is one of the few that gets any compliments from Sandler and the only one that the famous barefoot runner gives a passing grade to. The proof is in the shoe’s simple design. Nike Frees call on our memories to remember an old Nike commercial that still rings true for athletes pushing themselves to get the job done-a slogan that says “Just Do It”. That slogan came long before Nike Frees were even an idea, but they reflect the idea perfectly.
Nike Frees are incredibly popular even though they don’t stand out on the shoe wall at the sporting goods store. At a glance, they look like regular running shoes, while flashier shoes made by such manufacturers as Merrell jump out at you. “They are terrible.” Says Sandler of the Merrell signature “barefoot” running shoes. Sandler criticizes the way the Merrell product has a narrow sole that is not as wide as the shoe. This design causes the feet to be pinched and not function as they would if they were bare Nintendo 3DS.
Nike Frees allow for truer barefoot running form, which shows why more runners prefer them. Not only are they more comfortable because they don’t pinch the foot, they let the foot assume its natural, wide form. The foot can spread out each time it lands and the muscles in the foot can then strengthen because they are allowed to move naturally.
Nike Frees wide width and flat soles also allow the runner to have better balance. There is not a runner in the Western World who hasn’t twisted an ankle as a result of landing wrong on the thick platform of a traditional running shoe because the shoe bottom was such a burden to move. Twisted ankles mean wasted time sitting and recovering from a preventable injury that would be far less-likely to happen had the runner been wearing Nike Frees. This is just one reason more runners are now wearing them today.