Running in footwear is NOT Running “Barefoot”
by Ken Bob Saxton
I don’t mind people running in whatever kind of footwear they like, but it is deceptively misleading – to call running in minimalist shoes, “Barefoot” - it is, sadly, leading many people to injury.
I suppose some of you are getting tired of hearing me talk about how running in minimalist footwear is NOT running “Bare” foot! But, I’ve been sick and tired of hearing people call running in minimalist footwear, running “Bare” foot!
First of all, running with footwear is NOT running “bare” foot. Secondly, it is deceptivly misleading. And sadly, this deception is leading people to seriously hurt themselves!
So, you should be thankful that I don’t post articles like this EVERY time I find a blog (like the barefoot running post at TentLife.net), or advertisement, claiming that running in minimalist footwear IS “BARE” foot running!
If you really want to learn how to run “Barefoot”, take off the footwear!
The problem is, with these “crutches”, people are not getting one of the most important benefits of running barefoot – the feedback from the multitude of nerve endings in our bare soles. yes, I know it hurts to go barefoot at first – that IS the point! It is these very pains that teach us to stand, walk, and run, differently than we learned in foot-numbing footwear, in ways that don’t create the pain in the first place.
Yes, running barefoot will strengthen the feet, in time. But, it isn’t just about strengthening the feet to endure running badly. It is about being able to feel when we are running badly, so we can learn to run better, more gracefully, without causing pain. Then our feet will grow tough enough, to run gently. More toughness than that is not necessary.
Without the feedback from our senstive bare soles, people are, running longer, and landing harder, than their feet, body, and minds are ready for, on their begining barefoot outings (and they don’t have the support of their old stiff running shoes to protect their feet from this abuse).
A friend of mine, and a running coach, recently called me, and said he has been seeing this same phenomenon for a couple of years, about the time Vibram started marketing their Five Finger shoes (yes, they are shoes!) as a “Barefoot” running shoe… and people are getting hurt, without the benefit of their sensitive bare soles, they still don’t feel how badly they are running, or when they have run too much.
I know I’m repeating myself, even within this post - but I will continue to repeat myself as long as people are getting hurt, from wearing footwear, which is deceiving them into believing they have learned to run just fine.
I can understand the desire to start out, running barefoot, gradually, carefully, with baby steps. And you certainly should start out gradually, carefully, with baby steps - but no infant I have ever met, was born with tough feet, or shoes!
In bare soles, we are like infants, with the benefit of sensitive feet, that, like an infant’s bare soles, have rarely touched the earth, TEACHING us HOW to interact with the earth, naturally, gently, effieciently, and gracefully.
First, learn to run, with the full benefit of precise feedback from your BARE soles, and allow them to teach you HOW to run gently.
Second, if you want to run on extreme surfaces, wear the minimalist footwear. But, if you have truely mastered running barefoot, you’ll find that protection is completely unnecessary, and actually gets in the way of your actually running barefoot.