Barefoot Running, the Movie - Review
By now, most avid barefoot runners know the story of Michael Sandler—the man who ran a 10k barefoot only three months after being told by doctors that he would be lucky to even walk again. Michael and his wife, Jessica Lee, co-authored the book Barefoot Running in 2010 and offer workshops across the country to help people discover the benefits of running with bare feet. The Soft Star elves had the privilege of meeting Michael and Jessica at one of their workshops when they passed through Oregon in the summer of 2011. The shoeless couple then paid the Soft Star workshop a visit and became early testers of our leather-soled RunAmocs.
Michael and Jessica (and their dog Sawa) with Soft Star founder Tim Oliver.
Now, Michael and Jessica have released their long awaited feature film, Barefoot Running, the Movie. We were very excited to see a preview of the movie, which provides a wealth of information about running bare and getting back in touch with the Earth.
The movie opens with Michael's amazing story about how a freak cycling accident led to a shattered femur, titanium implants, ten knee operations and the negative prognosis that running would never again be possible. After discovering online that running without shoes may lead to less impact force, he decided to give it a try. The results changed his life.
The film then delves into the anatomy of running and provides simple tips for developing natural and healthy running form. Michael and Jessica lay out their guidelines for easing into barefoot running to avoid injury and maximize benefits. The couple now has several years of experience helping people make the transition and their expertise is obvious through bountiful advice on what to expect and which myths to dispel (no, running barefoot will not make your feet ugly). Exercises and drills are provided to encourage good habits of posture and to improve balance. The end results are very inspiring, as we see Michael and Jessica run shoeless across all sorts of terrain ranging from streets and grass to rocky trails and calf-deep snow.
The movie also moves beyond the technical aspects of barefoot running and presents the fun and experimental side of shedding your shoes. Getting in sync with nature is a common theme, and one enjoyable chapter features Jessica turning exercise into playtime as she runs across logs, climbs trees and explores a forest, or as she puts it, "experiencing the world like a kid again." And while most barefoot running books and videos tend to target a male audience, Barefoot Running, the Movie appeals to both genders with a section specifically addressing the benefits of bare feet for women.
The film also features the big-screen debut of the Soft Star RunAmoc! In one chapter, appropriately titled "Footwear," Michael offers a list of qualities to look for in a barefoot or minimalist shoe for those times when bare feet are either not permitted or not preferred. His list, which includes a wide forefoot, low heel and thin and flexible soles, describes the type of shoe that would still allow the benefits of barefoot movement. A very proud RunAmoc Dash is presented as a shoe that fulfills all requirements.
Overall, the movie covers all aspects of barefoot running in a thorough, yet simple presentation. Complex ideas are broken down and explained in a way that anyone can understand. Beginners will find the transitional advice to be invaluable, and even experienced runners will learn something new from Michael's tips on form and balance. For anyone who feels overwhelmed with the abundance of running information online, the nicely organized Barefoot Running, the Movie is a welcome sigh of relief. We definitely recommend it as a gift for someone interested in baring all—footwise, that is.
For more information about Michael and Jessica, or to order your own DVD of Barefoot Running, the Movie, we encourage you to check out their site RunBare. And if you'd like a chance to win a free copy, then check back here next week...
Watch the trailer for Barefoot Running, the Movie