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´╗┐enthusiasts swear BOULDER, Colo. Kristen Campbell spent most of her 20s wearing soft leather moccasins everywhere she went, nike air max plus even on extended backpacking trips. But when she "grew up, she reluctantly moved on to "real shoes."I had to move out of the hippie ranks, says the avid, 39 year old distance runner, perhaps a little ruefully. "I had to stop being a dirtbag. So she was intrigued when she learned of a small but growing movement that advocates running barefoot, or something close to it. The shoes have virtually no support, offering only a tough, thin sole and individual pockets for each toe."They are so much fun nike acg boots to wear, she says. "I feel the ground more . They make for a more intimate running experience. Wimpy feetMcDougall, who now runs exclusively in Five Fingers and other low support shoes, shined a light on scientific research that, in his words, shows that "running shoes may be the most destructive force to ever hit the human foot. "You've got people who have lived on this planet 30, 40, 50, even 60 years wearing shoes, and now they are going to run barefoot? He agrees that running barefoot or in minimal support shoes can strengthen foot muscles and even help heal certain types of injuries. But he's already seeing the painful results of the trend in his practice."I say this not as a retailer, but as a physical therapist: Shoes protect feet when you run on concrete, pavement and rocks, Plaatjes says. "If we ran marathons completely on grass, I'd say do it. If we had them on the beach or on soft dirt, I'd say absolutely do it. nike uptempo 97 . But the majority of people can't do this. So they're jumping in, but sooner or later they are coming to see me or a podiatrist or a doctor. Barefoot therapyBenji Durden, long time Boulder runner, coach and former Olympic marathoner, is one of those who has found that some barefoot running has helped him recover from injuries. But the operative word is "some. In the 1980s, he did often trained barefoot on grass "just because I felt like it, accidentally discovering that it helped with an Achilles tendon injury. He forgot about the joy and utility of running sans shoes over the years, but this spring when he was having Achilles problems again, he ran into a friend wearing Five Fingers. So he started doing some workouts on grass in bare feet again."For me, running barefoot is the better solution than all that support, says Durden, 57. "But I don't know if that's valid for the entire American running population. Boulder Running Co. has been selling minimalist shoes like the Nike Free and Adidas Echo. But Plaatjes and co owner Johnny Halberstadt just last week decided to start carrying the Five Fingers, despite Plaatjes' concerns."We are just getting so many questions about them," Plaatjes says. "At least they provide some protection."Ugly maybe, but still sellingBut so far, the Pedestrian Shops in Boulder have had a monopoly on the curious looking shoes. )"They are sort of the opposite of everything that the running industry has been telling runners until now. African feetBut even Campbell, who loves her barefooting, has found that the technique and shoes have their limitations."I have a hard time keeping up with people. He thinks it will fade quickly as more runners become injured and find themselves limping back to a pair of solid modern shoes."In Africa, where people run, walk and grow up not wearing shoes, they can do this, says the South African native. Easy does it at first. Try hiking and down a rocky trail and see how that feels the next day. Proceed as appropriate.(Not a podiatrist, but just a barefoot citizen.)8/7/2009 5:10:19 PMuglier than crocs. how is that possible?8/7/2009 5:18:58 PMLOOK OUT HERE COMES KING KONG!!!8/7/2009 5:25:23 PMI heard some people trying to promote these the other day saying how healthy it is to go barefoot. Not hippies that take off their shoes a few hours a week but people who go with out shoes long term like in parts of India, Central America of any poor third world country. People that wear no shoes have horrible feet no arches and their toes and feet are twisted and distorted.8/7/2009 5:30:02 PMI've been a barefooter since I read the Oct '62 National Geographic (about '64) about the first winter Himalayan expedition, which encountered a barefoot pilgrim at 18,000' who said he'd been camping weeks without food water shelter or much clothing and showed them the block of ice with his impression where he slept! So for 45 of my 57 years I've walked, run and climbed barefoot. I've climbed both Arapaho Peaks barefoot and other grassy (at least partly) peaks. We used to have a barefoot running club in the '80s here with 3 members therapist to the stars Eric Hansen, Stryder Benson (who walked with MLK) and I. I performed on the Pearl St. Mall and all over N. America on a slackrope, barefoot, and was never injured unlike my shoed peers.