Asics Versus Nike Free 5.0 Versus Barefoot

In a previous post I looked at barefoot running versus Nike Free 5.0 running.  The conclusion was while there was more feeling of foot flexibility running in Nike Free 5.0 V4 shoes still isn’t exactly the same as running barefoot.

However, this conclusion got me thinking.  How does running in traditional running shoes compare to running in Nike Free shoes?  And more importantly how does running in traditional running shoes compare to barefoot running?  I wanted to look and feel if there was a difference between these shoes and no shoes at all.

Specifically this is what we looked at:

Asics Running Shoe ProfileAsics running shoes (4 or 5 years old)

Nike Free 5-0 shoes profile

Nike Free 5.0 V4 (1 week old)

barefoot

Barefoot (29 years old)

So I strapped on my trusty old pair of Asics running shoes (don’t even know what model they are cause I bought them so long ago) and put them to the treadmill test.  The test was pretty simple.  Just run for a little bit at 6 miles per hour and see how they felt.

The video below summarizes it below (excuse the dramatic overtones).

Barefoot Running Versus Asics Running Shoes

Like I said these Asics shoes I’ve had are pretty old.  I liked them a lot when I first got them since they were so light.  I’ve put a decent amount of mileage and the most recent stint with them has been training and running in a 10k race.  Training for that race I started noticing aches and pains I normally haven’t had with these shoes.  I’ve always had shin splints, but now I was getting knee pains I’ve never had.  This of course did not make me happy.

Anyway, watching the video you can actually see and hear the foot striking the treadmill.  It’s loud and it’s pretty isolated on the heel.  If you look at the foot position right before I land you can also see how the foot is angled very high, thus maximizing the stress put on the heel when contact is made.  The difference is more apparent when you put the Asics shoes against running with no shoes.

Asics Running Shoes versus Barefoot RunningLooking back at the issues I had running in the shoes I can see how the repetitive stress on the heel travels up the leg and could cause problems with my knees or shins.  But of course I’m not scientist.

Asics Running Shoes vs Nike Free 5.0 V4 Shoes

So the next thing to look at is how the Asics compare to the Nike Free shoes.  Watching the video you can see how the foot position of the Nike Free is slightly less than the Asics.  In addition you can hear a lighter “thump” when landing compared to the Asics.

Asics Running Shoes versus Nike Free 5-0 Running Shoes

Overall the foot feels better in the Nike Free since the sole of the foot flexes more than the Asics (the Asics are very stiff).  If I were to guess I’d probably have less problems running in these shoes than the Asics since the heel strike is less pronounced.  However, we still can’t say that running in these shoes is just like running barefoot.  But it is an improvement.

All Three Compared

Finally, we can see how the barefoot running, Asics, and Nike Free stack up against each other with regards to heel strike.

Barefoot versus Nike Free 5-0 versus Asics Running Shoes

Conclusion

In the end it’s definitely clear that running barefoot out of these three options is better if you want to eliminate having more heel striking from your running.  And if like me you believe that less heel strike leads to less foot and running related injuries then barefoot running is probably the best thing to do.  However, if like me you don’t want to go through the pain of running barefoot and want an in between step then the Nike Free 5.0 V4 shoes are probably for you.

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Michel April 10, 2010, 10:12 am

    I think you are doing something wrong here. When using the nike free series, you should not land on your heel but on the middle/forefoot, just like you are doing when running barefoot. Just change your running technique and you can run ‘barefoot alike’ in every running shoe. So your conclusion is not correct. You eliminate heelstrike by changing your running landing technique!

    Reply
  • max May 31, 2010, 8:52 pm

    Your form in all 3 versions is terrible. I’m guessing you’ve used asics your entire life as when you run barefoot the front part of your foot should hit and then the heel should hit-not the entire length of the foot all at once.

    Reply
  • Stella November 15, 2010, 1:12 pm

    When running barefoot, you shouldn’t be in socks, it reduces grip and changes your form. Also, when running in the socks, you’re still heel striking.

    Reply
  • keith March 14, 2011, 3:52 am

    Your form is deplorable in all three examples. The screen shot you took of your foot (in socks) is nothing like the actual form exhibited in the video. You can still be a forefoot striker in any shoes, it’s just easier when the hell-to-toe counter is less pronounced. Your conclusion correct, but not because of your video.

    Reply
  • steve May 30, 2011, 3:15 pm

    The sampling rate of your video is too low making it hard to draw any conclusions. How did you normalize your video data so that you were “grabbing” the same instance in time from each of the three conditions?

    Reply
  • moto August 23, 2011, 5:10 pm

    Not to mention that ASICS’ GEL technology does have its life cycle at 400-500 miles. Running an VERY old and worn out pair of ASICS = Wearing a very bad running shoes.

    Reply

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