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Why barefoot isn't best for most runners
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eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Why barefoot isn't best for most runners on 09/13/2013 04:15:01 MDT Print View

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/the-running-blog/2013/aug/22/barefoot-isnt-best-most-runners

more at link ...

This is a paraphrased version of a conversation I had with one (particularly extreme) barefoot runner:

"I've managed to teach myself to run in Vibrams. It's taken about eight months, and I still can't run as far as I used to, but it feels much more natural."

"That's good. What sort of surface do you run on?"

"Pavements, sometimes the canal towpath."

"I see."

"I've also started the Paleo diet."

"Is that where you only eat what you can kill or find?"

"No, I still go to the shops. I just only eat raw food."

"Oh."

"We didn't evolve to run in big heavy shoes, you know."


;)

Richard May
(richardmay)

Locale: Swamplands.
Why barefoot isn't best for most runners on 09/13/2013 07:51:21 MDT Print View

Pop-corn time!

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Why barefoot isn't best for most runners on 09/13/2013 08:23:01 MDT Print View

I thought the same thing! Let the drama begin...

Of course, in my orthopedic PT practice I get so much business from barefoot runners these days...I feel like just handing out my business cards on running paths sometimes.

I always love the comment that "we didn't evolve to wear shoes..."
Well, yeah, but YOU grew up wearing them and your bones and muscles and neurological connections and heel pads developed with shod feet. If you grew up in the Mexican highlands wearing huaraches, or running through the Kalahari barefoot, well then yeah, you're going to be good at it. But for the rest of us, maybe not so much.

I am a HUGE advocate of wearing minimal shoes or going barefoot to work muscles in your feet and lower legs, but as an exercise, not necessarily as a lifestyle. Everyone is different of course, and for some people it really is the way to go. But early research so far is not really pointing to less injury among runners overall...and that study cited in the article is one of the stronger ones to come out. I think we don't have enough long term information yet to make any good recommendations. So that means I am a strong advocate for moderation: you probably should stop putting orthotics and superfeet in every pair of shoes you own, but you should also not walk around in barefoot shoes all day every day either.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Why barefoot isn't best for most runners on 09/13/2013 10:48:16 MDT Print View

Meh. Talk about the other end of the spectrum. I'm heading out today for a 41-mile overnighter in PA. I'll be wearing a pair of nicely cushioned Hoka trail shoes. First time hiking in them. Should be interesting.....

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Why barefoot isn't best for most runners on 09/13/2013 11:07:24 MDT Print View

I walk around in sandals or a shoe with barefoot "technology", like Merrells. I sometimes wear Fivefingers around town or on short BP'ing trips.

I am more comfortable in them, but am I doing unnoticed harm to my feet? I dunno.

Edit: "Them" being minimal footwear.

Edited by T.L. on 09/13/2013 11:14:41 MDT.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Why barefoot isn't best for most runners on 09/13/2013 11:19:25 MDT Print View

Man, Eric, Why not just ask if grassy-knoll conspiracy theorists who served in Vietnam and are now Scoutmasters should vote for or against land rights for indigenous gay whales?

Sandals are documented from 10,000 years ago in Oregon (and still all my Portland friends wear Birkenstocks!).

Otzi the Iceman had his bearskin/deerskin shoes over 5,000 years ago.

Decreased toe size in human remains suggests shoe use started 40,000 year ago.

So we've actually evolved from wearing shoes.

No Iditarod sled team gets to Nome without lots of booties for the dogs.

That said, I use the lightest shoe I can for the task at hand. "Barefoot" models for 10 mile / day. Running shoes for 20+ miles on sidewalk or great trails. Low-cut hiking shoes with a stiffer sole for rough trails over 20 miles / day.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Why barefoot isn't best for most runners on 09/13/2013 12:28:20 MDT Print View

I don't run. Ever. But I live and hike in minimalist shoes. I've put 25 miles in my vivobarefoot neo trails on rocky terrain and my feet didn't hurt.
This is probably because I'm young and I've been wearing minimalist shoes for several years. Before that I was wear fairly flexible shoes without any arch support. I started cutting the midsoles out of sneakers for more flexibility and ground feel until I found out that some shoe makers were already making really minimal shoes.
Do your children a favor and start them off in minimalist shoes.

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
Re: Why barefoot isn't best for most runners on 09/13/2013 15:43:58 MDT Print View

I am puzzled by runners who will argue that barefoot shoes are natural, and then go out to run on pavement or a track.

I sincerely doubt our ancestors spent much time on hard, perfectly flat surfaces. (Let's see, a fine sand beach at low tide, post-glacial bedrock, ice, dry mudflat...um...that's all I got.)

As a kid I hiked in Keds and I still prefer highly flexible shoe soles on the trail. The bumpy/even, hard/soft, up/down/sideways trail. But thin soles on pavement hurt. It sure doesn't feel 'natural'.

Edited by Islandized on 09/13/2013 15:46:07 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Why barefoot isn't best for most runners on 09/13/2013 15:57:33 MDT Print View

So what? You can still walk barefoot on pavement. If you do it every day your feet will toughen up and it won't be uncomfortable.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
popcorn on 09/13/2013 16:09:01 MDT Print View

Buttered or nutritional yeast?

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Why barefoot isn't best for most runners on 09/13/2013 16:16:48 MDT Print View

The oldest shoe so far discovered, in a cave in Armenia, was 7,000 years old. It is probably not THE oldest, as was pointed out in an earlier post. People have been wearing shoes for a long, long time now, doubtless with good reason. Fads come and fads go. As the orthopedic bills mount, I suspect this one's time in the limelight will be mercifully brief.

Bogs and Bergs
(Islandized) - F

Locale: Newfoundland
Re: Re: Why barefoot isn't best for most runners on 09/13/2013 16:29:15 MDT Print View

Justin, maybe I didn't make my point very well. Barefoot may be natural. Pavement definitely isn't.

But we are indeed adaptable creatures, and THAT is the main gift of our evolution.

Another great gift, the ability to make tools and devices to protect ourselves. Like clothes and shoes. Naked may be natural, it may be how we evolved, but it sure isn't comfortable, or even safe, in many circumstances. We made things so we wouldn't be limited by our evolution.

Edited by Islandized on 09/13/2013 16:36:23 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Why barefoot isn't best for most runners on 09/13/2013 16:30:11 MDT Print View

Tom, I seriously doubt those shoes had any arch support or heel rise. Not much different from the minimalist shoes available today.

BJ Clark
(bj.clark) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Why barefoot isn't best for most runners on 09/13/2013 17:31:11 MDT Print View

I walk around in Merrill gloves, but run and hike in Hokas. I like the Merrill's , love my Hokas!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why barefoot isn't best for most runners on 09/13/2013 18:02:54 MDT Print View

"Tom, I seriously doubt those shoes had any arch support or heel rise. Not much different from the minimalist shoes available today."

I don't know, Justin. Maybe, maybe not. My point was that going about barefoot went out of fashion thousands of years ago, with good reason, and the feet of the vast majority of humanity have adapted to wearing shoes, to the point where any sudden reversion to going around barefoot is likely to result in a lot of injuries. This is particularly true in hard surfaced urban areas, where the majority of mankind now lives. In any case, I personally have nothing against minimalist shoes, although I am skeptical as to their efficacy on hard surfaces or for running long distances. Time will tell, as peoples' experience with them, and the corresponding orthopedic data, accumulate.

Richard May
(richardmay)

Locale: Swamplands.
Proper technique on 09/13/2013 18:05:24 MDT Print View

I enjoy being barefoot. I've spent the last year slowly getting out of shoes. I find, and this is my experience not scientific or what other's say, that with proper technique even granite isn't a problem. The second hardest part of going barefoot is making good technique (like in any physical activity) second nature. I think the most difficult part is getting over the belief that you need shoes. Unfortunately many don't understand that proper technique isn't come by in a few weeks.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: Why barefoot isn't best for most runners on 09/13/2013 18:09:13 MDT Print View

>"Another great gift, the ability to make tools and devices to protect ourselves."

True that. Says the Alaskan.

>"Like clothes and shoes. Naked may be natural, it may be how we evolved. . . "

Naked was a large part of our evolution. Until 50,000-150,000 years ago (moving out of the tropics). Caucasians wouldn't have light skin if they hadn't continued to evolve. Samoans' large chests may relate to only the best rowers colonized new islands. Pima Indians survived periods of famine by packing it on during feast times (a trait that results in diabetes in today's economy).

For the most succinct response to the shoes/no-shoes debate:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-ie_aFsfb8

Richard May
(richardmay)

Locale: Swamplands.
Re: Re: Re: Re: Why barefoot isn't best for most runners on 09/13/2013 18:28:45 MDT Print View

"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-ie_aFsfb8"

Love it! Always use the right tool for the job.

Edited by richardmay on 09/13/2013 18:39:45 MDT.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: barefoot on 09/13/2013 19:10:55 MDT Print View

Once I took the time to learn proper running technique (midfoot strike, high cadence), I found that I no longer needed shoe gimmicks like pronation control and lots of padding. It's not about the shoe, it's about the runner. For me less shoe is more.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
Why barefoot isn't best for most runners" on 09/13/2013 19:21:01 MDT Print View

Evolution is about success in mating. With that, the best shoes for hiking and running are very expensive Italian loafers, and maybe high heels.

You minimalist shoe guys really need to read up on Darwin.