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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The interest in barefoot running rages on

So there it is… so much more information out there – good stuff too, lots of research being done, some out in the public domain & larger studies to come—hooray! Remember how I said that there are way more intelligent people than I out there who know so much more? So the evening after a day of BFR back & forth in the popular press, there’s a great piece out of Beaverton, Oregon. Check it out on NPR & search for barefoot running. Then there are also the groupies, who at least are passionate, whether well-informed or not.
You know how it goes, a few individuals are super keen, have a valid story about themselves to tell & then sell it as the norm or the answer to world peace - & this cuts both ways – for or against. My appreciation to those who replied/commented as a contribution to the blog; I am glad that some have taken the time (& even admitted getting injured), but persisted & strengthened their feet & proceeded to find a level of barefoot, or minimalist running that allowed them to continue enjoying an activity they love. Also remember the silent majority who run miles, effectively, enjoyably & with shoes of some form or another. Those experts that I work with on a daily basis & who do sell shoes for a living have confirmed in their attention to my clients that sometimes too much shoe is prescribed, but in general, most people receive footwear that provides the minimum of what they need. Look at it this way, sure we were meant to run barefoot, over soft natural terrain, in certain climates. We were designed at some point in our evolution to run down our food because even though much slower than almost all our prey we had superior breathing apparatus that allowed us to go slowly for VERY long periods of time & that we dealt with heat way better than our lunch did hence we drove them to exhaustion. Nowadays we only drive ourselves to exhaustion in an effort to ward off the fact that our food no longer avoids us & just lays there; & in most cases it is barely food at all! We no longer naturally operate that way through necessity (hunger!), & we certainly are not that light, nor do the surfaces we mostly have access to allow barefoot running.
Another factor seemingly not considered is that of speed. Converts to barefoot running as the only way to go can initially, for very short distances run gingerly on their forefeet & gradually adapt to a level where they get some distance & some speed – however, once conditioned, they still need some slight cushioning & protection in the form of shoes to be able to run where they please, as fast as they are able. While they do report miraculous healing from chronic conditions, they aren’t saying much about speed. I do agree with the argument put forth that the slowness of the process of conversion is exactly what we need & it matters not how long it takes, but only that we take the trouble to recreate our feet & legs for long term health & fitness. Some (& this is most people I believe), who have developed themselves as runners & figured out what works best on their feet & are successful at doing what they want to do would be loathe to go back & relearn the process entirely & suffer the injuries en route to reinventing the wheel. If they live in an environment unsuited to the sans shoes approach, why risk it? Whether we run or play racquet ball recreationally, if we push the limits – barefoot or not we will become an injury statistic at some stage!
More next time… Like heel striking is not evil, but not all heel striking is created equally either…
Take care, run well, be adventurous & sure wonder out (or in) where it’s safe & very gradually strengthen those feet!
Bobby McGee

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