Barefoot running: Fad or cult?

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Mar 12, 2009
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Ah, yes if running at night I too would err on the side of caution. Merrell does a good lightweight or minimalist trail shoe, toe box definitely adds more protection than the Vibrams.
 
Jun 18, 2011
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The barefoot/vibram running movement is a cult. However, there is merit to minimalism as well. The reason its a cult is that the people who pick it up usually will try and act like experts in the field of running and biomechanics, even if they only do it casually. Its very much like casual cycling fans in the US, who only know about Lance and will defend him to the death.

Their is some truth to all of it though. Minimalism strengthens the feet and lower leg muscles, and can help with proper running form, however it does not guarantee that your form will improve once wearing them.

As said before, the reason its bad is stress fractures. Last year, 2 of my friends asked me for advice on shoes, and I told them not to start off with vibrams or very minimalist shoes. They didn't listen, and about a month later they both had stress fractures. The problem really isn't the idea so much as the people. Noone realizes that your foot has been sheltered its whole life, and they add far too much stimulus to it at one time, and it can't handle it. Also, humans were never meant to run on surfaces like asphalt.

The proper way to use vibrams and the minimalist movement is to slowly build up lower leg strength by rotating minimalist shoes into your training routine very slowly. The body needs to get used to absorbing more shock and develop underdeveloped muscles from form changes. Even with all of this, I still don't find minimalism to be great, I just think that what people should take away from it is that proper running form is good. There is a reason professionals use bulky trainers, and its for extra protection. Believe me, when you get between 80 and 100 miles a week, minimalism is very hard, and it takes its toll even if you only run on trails.
 
Jun 18, 2011
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sparknotes:
vibram/barefoot/minimalism is a cult and jumping straight into it will cause stress fractures. The best thing to take out of it is that proper running form is important and helps reduce injuries if you adapt properly.
 
Mar 12, 2009
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I agree mostly with what you say but one cannot attribute stress fractures to "barefoot" running in isolation. There are plenty of like injuries by people in "normal" running shoes. Both often often stem from similar causes:- too much volume, poor form, lack of proper recovery etc.


Those that are accustomed to large volumes have always used quite "minimalist" shoes, though I recall them being called "race flats."
 
Jun 18, 2011
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Tapeworm said:
I agree mostly with what you say but one cannot attribute stress fractures to "barefoot" running in isolation. There are plenty of like injuries by people in "normal" running shoes. Both often often stem from similar causes:- too much volume, poor form, lack of proper recovery etc.


Those that are accustomed to large volumes have always used quite "minimalist" shoes, though I recall them being called "race flats."
I'm not saying that if someone gets a stress fracture its most likely because they wore vibrams, rather someone who is switching to minimalism is more likely to develop a stress fracture if they aren't careful. Of course you can get the same injuries in normal running shoes, but they still protect the foot more than minimalist shoes.

Also, people who run high volume don't always use minimalist shoes, there are plenty of guys out there running 120+ a week in kayanos or structure triax's. To me, minimalist shoes vary from barefoot/vibram to flats to lightweight trainers. Personally I go for lightweight trainers with some cushioning to keep my legs fresher.
 
I won the Adelaide Xmas Fanatics Half marathon a few days ago. No way would I have won it in my Vibrams.

Walk around the house barefoot and train and race in proper footwear.
 
Oct 6, 2009
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Vibram Agrees to Settle Class Action Lawsuit

Vibram USA, the company that makes FiveFingers running shoes, has agreed to settle a lawsuit that alleged the company made false and unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of its glove-like footwear. According to the court filings, Vibram settled to put the matter to rest and avoid any additional legal expenses. “Vibram expressly denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing alleged in the Actions, and neither admits nor concedes any actual or potential fault, wrongdoing or liability,” read the court brief.

Valerie Bezdek brought the class action suit against Vibram in March 2012. She filed her complaint in Massachusetts, the state where Vibram’s U.S. headquarters are located. Bezdek alleged that Vibram deceived consumers by advertising that the footwear could reduce foot injuries and strengthen foot muscles, without basing those assertions on any scientific merit. “The gist of her claim is that Vibram illegally obtained an economic windfall from her because it was only by making false health claims that Vibram induced consumers to buy FiveFingers shoes, and to pay more for them than they would have otherwise,”
 
Dec 7, 2010
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Beech Mtn said:
WTF. I'm only just seeing this now.

This woman must not only be an idiot, but an idiot with a tremendous amount of spare time on her hands.

Maybe she should just go out for a run. :rolleyes:

I suppose I shouldn't be, but I'm completely amazed that people are unable to figure out how to run without the aid of overpriced, over-designed, slave labor manufactured "shoes."

I was in a shop that specializes in running shoes a few years ago (at the height of the vibram hysteria). Having just purchased another pair of Five Fingers for myself, one of the saleswomen mentioned to me that they were putting on a "barefoot running clinic."

I replied, with constrained sarcasm, "What's there to teach? Take off your shoes. Go run."

"Well," she replied, "It's really not that simple."

To which I thought, No, it actually is that simple. Of course if one were to proceed like an idiot, then idiotic things might happen. Too bad Vibram didn't include a disclaimer with every pair sold:

"Give these a try, but don't be stupid about it. If you lack any degree of common sense, put these back and ask your salesperson about the latest pair of Nikes." :rolleyes:


Oh, did I mention that I do a good 80% of my running in Five Fingers? The most minimal model they offer.

And yes, my feet are both stronger and more supple as a result. Haven't been injured either. For me, they offer the perfect antidote to hours of having my feet inside of unforgiving, carbon-soled cycling shoes.



But I'm not a scientist. :eek:
 
To stretch the OP a bit, I have old angry feet from years of fun. I have $1000s of orthodic inserts and have tried $1000s of 'great' shoes. My feet are the happiest is flat shoes that do absolutely nothing to support or shape them. I wear Chucks (yep Converse Chuck Taylor) most of the time. They are ugly, but my feet don't yell at me all day.

Jimi, "barefoot" running usually refers to running in some type of minimalist shoe. Two notes on that, most minimalist shoes are not minimalist at all, and some people do actually run barefoot (we have too many goat head thorns around here for that).
 

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