Monday, January 17, 2011

Barefoot and Minimalist Running Here to Stay

Whether you want it or not.

If you're a regular reader of the R's, you already know my feelings about Barefoot Running. Cliff Notes version: it's fine for a very small subset of runners and an injury waiting to happen for most.

Unfortunately, now that the running shoe companies have figured out how to make money from barefoot running (yeah, they can't make money from barefoot running, so...hello minimalist running shoes!), you can be sure that the barefoot/minimalist trend won't be going away anytime soon.

But can't we be reasonable about this whole barefoot thing? I picked up the October 2010 issue of TrailRunner Magazine at the library and its got an article in it by someone named Michael Sandler, titled: Feel the Dirt Move Under Your Feet - How Barefoot Training Can Help You Fly.

Oh boy.

Hey, you want to run barefoot, knock yourself out. But I have to question how objective an article like this is, considering Mr. Sandler just happens to own a company called RunBare and has a book out titled: Barefoot Running: How to Run Light and Free by Getting in Touch with the Earth.

Does TrailRunner really think we're going to get a fair, balanced view of barefoot running like this? Come on.

Trust me, the shoe companies will spend plenty lying to us about how great minimalist shoes are, we don't need our few major media outlets doing the same thing.

Photo: "If the Barefooters had the R's running their advertising campaign."


  1. I actually tried barefoot running before and I found it somewhat scary and uncomfortable. In addition, it hurt my legs too. However, after I've discovered shoes companies starting making barefoot running shoes and I bought one for myself out of curiosity, guess what? I like it. This kind of shoes act as a shield between your feet and elements from the ground. Moreover, they function as if you're wearing no shoes at all. I personally use Vibram Five Fingers and Zem Gear. For more details regarding these shoes, go here.

  2. Yes the reality, shoe companies want to make money. Remember the days when kids played baseball, football, tennis, basketball and soccer in one pair of canvas CVO’s, when kids cross-trained in one pair of shoes …… what a bloody concept!. Then some marketing genius in Oregon thought - Hummmm, why don’t we invent a cross training category (since Reebok was kicking butt in the aerobics category) – guess what people were cross training for decades before this concept existed but people weren’t making money off of it. Let’s brainwash these people into believing that they need a special shoe for this category we just invented.. Proof that if you can’t be a leader in an existing category – then invent a new category.

    The same with the barefoot issue. Guess what, remember those good old Onitsuka Tiger flat, light, flexible volleyball shoes – look familiar to any of you minimalists out there. What’s old is new again.

    The reality is that there are benefits and consequences to being barefoot; 1) your muscles get stronger vs 2) you might step on something. There are very few people who think that getting stronger muscles is a bad thing, however there are quite a few people who think running barefoot looks stupid, or stepping in dog crap sucks (barefoot is not for them). Another reality is that even minimal shoes act as a sensory insulator for the important stimuli the soles of our feet receive from the support surface. The best of both worlds might be as simple as getting some biofeedback insoles and using them in your minimal shoes. You benefit by reducing any dependency that you may have had on the bracing, support and control features of most commercial running shoes, and you are able to mimic the barefoot sensations required on the sole of the foot..

    Yet a final reality – one the big shoe guys will start selling semi-permanent tattoos so you put their logo on the side of the your foot. A win-win -- you pay them to promote their brand.