Monday, July 18, 2011

A "New" Form of Running?

I regularly read references to barefoot running being a "new" form of running. Usually the article goes on to say something like, "This 'new' form of running is untested, and we don't know if the human foot will hold up to the stress of barefoot running."

Let's get some perspective. Humans have been around in one form or another for 2 million years. The human foot has not changed significantly in about 1.5 million years. Most of that time, everyone went barefoot. If the human foot was so broken that it was not up to the task of barefoot running, one of two things would have happened. The foot would have evolved, or humanity would have become extinct. Humans have been running barefoot on feet constructed exactly like the feet we have today for 1.5 million years. The modern running shoe was invented only about forty to fifty years ago. So I have two questions for the reader.

  1. Which is the "new" form of running, running in modern running shoes, or running barefoot?
  2. Do you believe that we really need something invented forty years ago to do what people have been doing for approximately 1.5 million years barefoot?
Barefoot running has 1.5 million years of "testing" to back it up, and the fact that we are here today to discuss this topic strongly suggests that barefoot running has passed the test of time. Which is something that shod running has yet to do.

Why is there even a debate? Well in my opinion, people who grow up living sedentary lives and always wearing shoes, have weak feet, weak bodies, and are completely out of touch with how to move efficiently and effectively. And because of what appears to be a total lack of perspective, they usually seem to think they represent the norm.

If you want to become a barefoot or minimalist runner, you will probably have to do two things. Strengthen your feet, and learn how to move correctly by learning proper running technique. If you neglect to do these things, then you are likely to get injured.

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