As the title of my blog suggests, I am confused, frustrated, fed up…you name it. Over the past week, news has come out about Vibram settling a lawsuit for false claims about “no injuries; just like running barefoot” etc. This after Sketchers recently paid millions to settle a claim regarding their “shoes that strengthen the feet, cure diseases etc.”.
The legal action against the so-called ‘minimalist footwear’ section of the running industry has brought on a bevy of “I told you so” or “it stands to reason” comments on twitter, blog sites, within the media and, of course, within the ‘coffin’ (running shoe) manufacturing companies.
Lost in all of the hoopala is the opinion of the pure barefoot running community. This is where my confusion and frustration enters the picture. Those of us who are pure barefoot runners (in virtually ALL conditions) have known all along that the so-called ‘minimalist’ footwear line of products does NOT ‘simulate’ running barefoot. We’ve also known that any of those on the market (including Vibram, Minimus, Glove) do NOT allow for proprioceptive activity and direct sensory feedback from the foot to the rest of the working body. You can only achieve this (and the resultant safe, effective method of running against gravity) by going purely barefoot or, to a certain extent, by wearing the Barefoot Science insert system inside your running footwear.
I, on behalf of my pure barefoot running associates, want the research and media communities to do their FULL due diligence before prognosticating on the dangers of running barefoot. The need to understand FULLY how to run safely, efficiently and powerfully outweighs the introduction of the ‘latest and greatest’ cushioned, motion-controlled running ‘coffin’. If I understand correctly, the running shoe companies and many in the medical rehabilitation business want you to “protect” the feet, to “cushion the feet”, to “brace’ the feet – all in the name of injury prevention! It quite simply ticks me off to be continually bombarded by the advertising, promotion and hype of such. As we in the barefoot running community know, the only way to run barefoot is to…run barefoot!
For God’s sake, let’s get back to basics and not over-think the room. After all, at the end of the day, all of us SHOULD be able to run safely and injury-free.