Barefoot running: Fad or cult?

May 23, 2011
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I am leaning towards cult. The movement has all the hallmarks and seems to be made up of Luddites that dismiss the benefits of technology, ignore the injuries and other downsides, and justify their beliefs by extolling the questionable benefits of primitive times that are reminiscent of the glorification of the noble savage. It all sounds too similar to the paleo diet idiocy.
 
May 14, 2010
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Damiano Machiavelli said:
I am leaning towards cult. The movement has all the hallmarks and seems to be made up of Luddites that dismiss the benefits of technology, ignore the injuries and other downsides, and justify their beliefs by extolling the questionable benefits of primitive times that are reminiscent of the glorification of the noble savage. It all sounds too similar to the paleo diet idiocy.
Cult;)
If someone feels ok and wont risk glass in foot, it is ok. Even Abebe Bikila gave up this, after winning in Rome barefoot he wore Pumas in the Tokyo Olympic Marathon, and guess what he won again, and set a new world record, 2:12:11.2. Apparently, the shoes did not bother him at all.

Also some local coach was in Ethiopia and train Elvan Abeylegesse (two silver medals in Bejing 2008.), Dude there is lot i mean lot injuries from not wearing shoes, we even collected shoes and send them to Ethiopia.
I am just saying:eek:
 
Mar 12, 2009
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Barefoot... cycling? Cuz this is a cycling forum I thought this was what you meant :D. And no, I ride in proper cycling shoes.


But FWIW I run in " minimalist shoes" (loathe the term). How I have avoided injury without shock-absorbing, pronation control, arch support I'll never know. I believe very much that the body is built for running and we don't "need" a shoe to do so.

The bit of rubber protecting me from glass, thorns, rocks, parasites etc I am very grateful for however, and I wouldn't run without it.

The rates of injury with running, shod or not, would perhaps indicate there is not a one shoe fits all approach. Though in a n=3 observation people who have gone minimal AND EASED into training are still doing so with no injury whereas before they had shin splints, knee issues etc. Highly anecdotal though.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Grew up barefoot running - simply because that was the rule at school when we did phys-ed and because there really weren't that many proper running shoes available (unless you were a member of a track team that is). And what shoes were available weren't anything special - stuff that I think the poms call "plimsoles". I did wear shoes a few times at high school for running - but they were no help really.

I remember getting back into running at uni - and buying "modern running shoes". Along with that came a raft of problems - tight calves, twisted ankles, plantar fascia problems, knee pains. I stuck with those shoes and just ran less and less - which was sweet as I biked more and more ...

I got into orienteering and was surprised to find that my orienteering shoes - which make the things we wore at high school look positively padded - gave me none of the problems that my normal running shoes did. It took me a couple of years to really put two and two together and change my normal road and off-road shoes to minimalist, low profile shoes. With that change I found that all of my problems that I'd had with the normal type of running shoes (be they pronation control or just cushioning) disappeared.

I'll also say that in NZ its common place when you buy running shoes that the store will put you on a treadmills and film your foot fall while you run. Last time I bought a pair of off-road shoes we did that and tried both minimalist/low profile shoes and normal shoes. The difference was amazing - much straighter and better footfall with the minimalist shoes, while I kept collapsing in with the "normal" shoes. (My partner, who's a massage therapist and personal trainer, even commented on the stress that the normal shoes were putting on my legs.)

All that being a long way to say that, while I don't see myself going back to barefoot running in the near future, I can understand why it is taking hold. As my story shows, my personal experience is that less shoe is definitely the better way to go for me.

(Also recommend checking out Arthur Lydiard's bollocking of Phil Knight from Nike when Knight developed the cushioned shoe - and basically taught a generation of runners how to run wrong ...)
 
I wear the Viram Bikili. They are fantastic. I will not run on pavement with them but run the mtb trails. Great. Takes some getting used to, but yeah.
I started cutting the heels off my running shoes years ago and found was much better technique and sound. Then went to Newtons. Great shoe. Now Five
Fingers.
 
May 23, 2011
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veganrob said:
I wear the Viram Bikili. They are fantastic. I will not run on pavement with them but run the mtb trails. Great. Takes some getting used to, but yeah.
I started cutting the heels off my running shoes years ago and found was much better technique and sound. Then went to Newtons. Great shoe. Now Five
Fingers.
VFFs were designed for sailing. Have fun with your stress fractures.
 
Mar 12, 2009
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Damiano Machiavelli said:
VFFs were designed for sailing. Have fun with your stress fractures.
Any data? Or mere conjecture?

IIRC forefoot running induces more muscular strain than skeletal. And how do you explain stress fractures from those in fully padded running shoes?
 
Jun 23, 2009
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I have been running for almost 30 years. First marathon in 1984, and for most of that time have been running in low tech and fairly basic running shoes. After reading Born to Run, I really do think there is science and physiology behind the minimalist running trend. I currently do all of my miles on light weight trainers and run them into the ground. The only running injuries I have ever had is a couple of turned ankles. I won't go completely barefoot however. I limp like a sissy just walking out to the mailbox barefoot.

I would have to say to the original question: Both, it is definitely a fad but there are always those who are so extreme in any fad to be their own cult. I don't think the barefoot thing will last too long or grow very popular in the manner of 100% barefoot runners. Certain training days like beach runs though, sure.
 
Aug 3, 2011
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I run barefoot on the beach, otherwise wear running shoes with the least cushioning I can find.

According to my Biomechanics lecturer at uni, 80% of running shoes sold have pronation support, about 12% of the population actually need it.
Went into a shoe store shortly after where they have a pressure plate to show the transfer of weight through the stride. Mine showed a typical normal pattern - no over pronation or over supination. The salesman then told me that the test showed overpronation, and I would need a shoe which would prevent this.

At 95kg, running then about 40kms every week in running shoes without any extra support, I experienced no foot related pain whatsoever.
 
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Damiano Machiavelli said:
VFFs were designed for sailing. Have fun with your stress fractures.
I got a stress fracture while running a marathon in Asics Gel Kayano's.($135 "stability" shoes) I have not gotten one since moving to vibrams and now NB Minimus. My wife is currently training in NB Minimus Road for a marathon in October. No stress fracture issues. I think your opinion needs some statistical support.
 
Apr 5, 2010
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Thoughtforfood said:
I got a stress fracture while running a marathon in Asics Gel Kayano's.($135 "stability" shoes) I have not gotten one since moving to vibrams and now NB Minimus. My wife is currently training in NB Minimus Road for a marathon in October. No stress fracture issues. I think your opinion needs some statistical support.
That's good to hear of your success with the lightweight / low profile shoes. That's all "minimilast" shoes are really (although certainly at quiet an extreme!). For what it's worth, I like these new shoes, although I always did my mileage in the lightest, lowest heel rise shoes I could find. And in the summer it's flip flops unless I'm in mtb shoes!

I never really understood trail shoes with huge soft heels. Always seemed to me like a rolled ankle waiting to happen.

As for the OP, "fad or cult" isn't much of a choice is it? While barefoot or near barefoot running may be the latest thing to be taking up by the marketing machine, it's got legs even without the hype. So it's both and neither.

I don't think actually going barefoot is much of an option in most urban centers, at least not for me. One bad cut and the resulting downtime just can't be worth it.
 
Jun 9, 2011
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While in high school I read an article that claimed running barefoot would strengthen the tendons in your foot, thus giving you a faster 'kick'. Within minutes of my first run sans shoes I was a bloody mess, having stubbed several toes on both feet. When I got home my father roared with laughter, at least until he noticed the trail of blood I left across the living room carpet.
 
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bc_hills said:
That's good to hear of your success with the lightweight / low profile shoes. That's all "minimilast" shoes are really (although certainly at quiet an extreme!). For what it's worth, I like these new shoes, although I always did my mileage in the lightest, lowest heel rise shoes I could find. And in the summer it's flip flops unless I'm in mtb shoes!

I never really understood trail shoes with huge soft heels. Always seemed to me like a rolled ankle waiting to happen.

As for the OP, "fad or cult" isn't much of a choice is it? While barefoot or near barefoot running may be the latest thing to be taking up by the marketing machine, it's got legs even without the hype. So it's both and neither.

I don't think actually going barefoot is much of an option in most urban centers, at least not for me. One bad cut and the resulting downtime just can't be worth it.
For someone like me, the minimalist shoe is the best because it forces me to not heel strike. I have run since freshmen year of high school, and was always a severe heel striker. My knees went to crap in my early 20's because of the jarring nature of my gate. I was forced into the expensive "stability" shoe scheme, and still had problems, and got that stress fracture.

Running in minimalist shoes has been a hard change, and a shoe is a must for me because I too live in a city where it would be impossible not to get cut running barefoot. However, not having heel padding as false comfort has been great for me. Not everyone has the same gate, and many people don't heel strike nearly as badly, so I don't think it is a must for everyone to get away from cushioned shoes, but for someone like me (in my early 40's and having run for many years--and then not being able to run because my knees were just too shot--minimalist shoes have given me a the ability to run again...albeit slower), it has been great.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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I have been running with Vibram five-fingers since reading Born to Run as well. Very interesting reading with studies showing that 80% of runners, regardless of their degree of conditioning and training, will experience a running injury in a calendar year, and that injuries are significantly more likely in 1. running shoes and 2. the more expensive the running shoe.

I sustained patellar tendinitis after starting to run in a shoe that was specifically designed to correct pronation. Every time I started to run again after appropriate rest and physiotherapy my patellar tendinitis would return. I have been running with Vibram five-fingers for nearly 12 months now with no injuries and no recurrent patellar tendinitis.

There is definitely good science behind the minimalist movement. So I don't think it is a fad, especially when you see the inventors of running shoes start designing minimalist shoes (and read in Born to Run how the science behind running shoes to begin with is very dubious), but it is not for everyone and you do have to ease into it.
 
May 23, 2011
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elapid said:
Very interesting reading with studies showing that 80% of runners, regardless of their degree of conditioning and training, will experience a running injury in a calendar year, and that injuries are significantly more likely in 1. running shoes and 2. the more expensive the running shoe...There is definitely good science behind the minimalist movement.
That bolded part is absolutely laughable. Do you think that the hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps even billions of dollars, that Nike has expended on R&D was spent to make shoes that promote injuries? You do not think that one of Nike's competitors would take advantage of that, make a shoe that produces less injuries, and market the hell out of it? I suppose they are all in cahoots with each other.

I think I am changing my opinion to religion. It has its Bible in the form of Born to Run. It has a prophet in the form of a wacked out author that travels the land giving creepy sermons about the wonders of barefoot running. It has a demon in the form of the "billion dollar running shoe establishment." It even has its heretics in podiatrists that complain about injuries. It is fueled by anecdotal feel good miracles.

But let us see what podiatrists think of the "science" of barefoot reading. Link below. Short form is the science is junk and that conspiracy of evil shoe companies has had racing flats available for forty years that are just as minimalistic as the current fad shoes.

http://www.podiatry-arena.com/podiatry-forum/showthread.php?t=43282

Christopher McDougall is a snake oil salesman.
 
Apr 5, 2010
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Damiano Machiavelli said:
That bolded part is absolutely laughable. Do you think that the hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps even billions of dollars, that Nike has expended on R&D was spent to make shoes that promote injuries? You do not think that one of Nike's competitors would take advantage of that, make a shoe that produces less injuries, and market the hell out of it? I suppose they are all in cahoots with each other.

Can we all say, "tabacco industry"?

Nobody is saying that Nike is spending money to "promote injury" in a malicious sense.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Damiano Machiavelli said:
That bolded part is absolutely laughable. Do you think that the hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps even billions of dollars, that Nike has expended on R&D was spent to make shoes that promote injuries? You do not think that one of Nike's competitors would take advantage of that, make a shoe that produces less injuries, and market the hell out of it? I suppose they are all in cahoots with each other.

I think I am changing my opinion to religion. It has its Bible in the form of Born to Run. It has a prophet in the form of a wacked out author that travels the land giving creepy sermons about the wonders of barefoot running. It has a demon in the form of the "billion dollar running shoe establishment." It even has its heretics in podiatrists that complain about injuries. It is fueled by anecdotal feel good miracles.

But let us see what podiatrists think of the "science" of barefoot reading. Link below. Short form is the science is junk and that conspiracy of evil shoe companies has had racing flats available for forty years that are just as minimalistic as the current fad shoes.

http://www.podiatry-arena.com/podiatry-forum/showthread.php?t=43282

Christopher McDougall is a snake oil salesman.
What is stated in Born to Run is based on scientific papers published in peer-reviewed journals. You can chose not to believe it, but that is just highlighting your ignorance. Born to Run is a thought-provoking read, but in no way is it a bible. If you bothered to read it then you may understand some of the reasons behind the development of the running shoe and their so-called R&D. However, I am not Durianrider and I don't believe my way is the right way. The science behind it makes sense to me, much more so than opinions in a podiatry forum. I have made an informed decision based on scientific evidence and extensive reading, more than just Born to Run, and am happy with the results after a year of running with Vibram Five Fingers. That's just me.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Damiano Machiavelli said:
That bolded part is absolutely laughable. Do you think that the hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps even billions of dollars, that Nike has expended on R&D was spent to make shoes that promote injuries? You do not think that one of Nike's competitors would take advantage of that, make a shoe that produces less injuries, and market the hell out of it? I suppose they are all in cahoots with each other.
Have a look at some of the studies done on the relationship between shoes and running injuries.

For a start, there was Marti's study of 5000+ runners in Zurich in the 1980's:
MARTI, B. “Relationships Between Running Injuries and Running Shoes – Results of a Study of 5,000 Participants of a 16-km Run – The May 1984 Berne ‘Grand Prix’”. In: Segesser B., Pforringer W., eds. The shoe in sport. Chicago: Year Book Medical Publishers, 1989: 256-265

... then a few years back, a bunch of researchers at medical school in Dundee, Scotland came up with this:
Do you get value for money when you buy an expensive pair
of running shoes?
Richard Clinghan, Graham P Arnold, Tim S Drew, Lynda A Cochrane, Rami J Abboud - http://www.beginrunning.com/shoes/cheap-running-shoes-compared-with-expensive/#axzz1WdLV79nZ

These reports/studies basically said that users of cheap shoes without all the crap that the shoe makers put in reported at worst the same level of injury through to a significantly lower level of injury than users of high priced shoes. Put another way: all that **** that Nike puts in isn't worth it.

A more recent study even found that modern running shoes put more strain on the joints than wearing high heel shoes. That study is:
The Effect of Running Shoes on Lower Extremity Joint Torques - by D. Casey Kerrigan, MD, Jason R. Franz, MS, Geoffrey S. Keenan, MD, Jay Dicharry, MPT, Ugo Della Croce, PhD, and Robert P. Wilder, MD. PM&R: The journal of injury, function and rehabilitation, Volume 1, Issue 12 (December 2009) -
http://www.pmrjournal.org/article/S1934-1482(09)01367-7/fulltext

In pretty much each case, the culprit was seen to be the overly padded soles and raised heels in modern running shoes - and you'll note in the Scottish study that they said that all of this stuff lulls people into a false sense of security and encourages poor running style.

And as for why a company would spend money on all that research. Simple:
- people want to buy a good running style rather than putting in the long boring hours of drills to get it - and you can sell that with anti-pronation, cushioning, bull**** stuff;
- it is cheaper for Nike to try to out research/out-gadget Asics (or any other combination of shoe makers' names you want to use) than it is to fight them on price - especially because consumers are prepared to pay more for having shoes loaded with more of the unnecessary crap.
 
Damiano Machiavelli said:
VFFs were designed for sailing. Have fun with your stress fractures.
Not worried about it. Don't believe it will happen.But as I said, don't run on pavement with them, only trails. However I have many, many friends get stress fractures, sore backs, bad knees etc from conventional running shoes. They encourage bad technique, don't let feet and lower leg do the job they were intended to do.
You probably can't run so wouldn't understand.
 
May 23, 2011
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Read through the link I posted. They go through the research, the problems with the studies, and the barefoot running cult's misrepresentation. I think I will trust people on the front line of dealing with injuries rather than a conman's kumbaya distortions designed to sell himself and his book.
 
minimalist shoes are not running barefoot. i used to race in what they called
flats back then. at racing speed they worked great. doing one hour around my
neighborhood was less than appealing for me. with all of this only minor injuries
in 30 years(knock wood). full airsole for me.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Damiano Machiavelli said:
Read through the link I posted. They go through the research, the problems with the studies, and the barefoot running cult's misrepresentation. I think I will trust people on the front line of dealing with injuries rather than a conman's kumbaya distortions designed to sell himself and his book.
Interesting reading. I think some of the problem is both camps are being judged on the basis of zealots. There is a very vocal, hopefully minority, group of barefoot/minimalist runners who misrepresent scientific data and this is propogated in popular media reports. There are also a number of podiatrists on the aforementioned forum who are misrepresenting the majority of barefoot/minimalist runners who quietly go about their running without forcing their preferences on anyone else.

A scientific paper supporting the use of barefoot/minimalist running in a journal as prestigious and rigorous as Nature is a huge achievement. Harvard professors advocating barefoot/minimalist running is also strong support of the concept. Conclusions like "Fore-foot- and mid-foot-strike gaits were probably more common when humans ran barefoot or in minimal shoes, and may protect the feet and lower limbs from some of the impact-related injuries now experienced in a high percentage of runners" are very telling, especially in a paper published in Nature. I am in a scientific profession and problems can be found in any paper no matter what the source. Some of the podiatrists on the forum had issues with this paper, but scientists will always be able to pick holes in any published paper. Some of the problem, however, is when the media puts a spin on scientific literature and when this spin gets into the popular media then it can be quite misguided and unrepresentative. This paper, and the quote above, is representative of that when the popular media construe the conclusion above as saying that there are less injuries with barefoot/minimalist runners.

There are 429 citations for papers when searched under the keywords "running shoe" in PubMed. All of them will be flawed to some degree and none deserve to be flogged like Lieberman's paper because of being misrepresented by the popular media.

In the same vain as some of the members of the podiatry forum, the respondents on this forum are potentially biased (because their patients have foot problems, their business is to sell orthoses to accompany running shoes, and/or they work for running shoe companies), they are critical of the vocal fanatics of barefoot/minimalist runners and not the more common (at least in my opinion) inquisitive and well informed runner, and some talk about the "barefoot/minimalist running community perpetuating myths and nonsense to fuel their own agenda" when they are doing exactly the same thing.

However, some respondents are also quite rational and point out that there is no study that shows a difference, either positive or negative, between running shod or minimalist. This is important because your statement regarding increased risk of injuries is refuted by both the scientific literature and the very forum that you have highlighted to support your assertions of increased risk of injury.

As I said, I am happy to continue running with minimalist shoes because I investigated the topic thoroughly, I was inquisitive, and I personally have experienced no injuries with minimalist shoes in 12 months compared to frequent injuries with traditional running shoes (as recommended by a podiatrist). I don't really care what you do, or what anyone else runs in, but you are closed minded and ignorant to start this thread with a specific goal in mind (ie, inflame and to shoot down anyone that had an opinion other than yours). If you were genuinely interested in the question you first asked in this thread, then you would be more balanced and rational in your approach.
 
Jun 23, 2009
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It must be a religion, it even has random people deciding to take up a cause against it for no good reason except to tell others how to live and what to believe. You had too much hate to just focus on Rapha?
 

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