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More barefoot running propaganda

2010-02-01 06:12:53.007821+00 by Dan Lyke 10 comments

Science Daily: Barefoot Running: How Humans Ran Comfortably and Safely Before the Invention of Shoes.

My experience wearing my Vibram 5 Fingers shoes has convinced me that shoes as we've known them up to now are largely a failure of technology, or at least evidence of insufficient technology. One of those failures is that I don't wear 'em when it's this wet and cold outside, but between these and Birkenstocks, the idea that we need less padding rather than more in the soles seems pretty solid.

[ related topics: Current Events Sports Shoes ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2010-02-01 10:10:24.781764+00 by: DaveP

Saw this and memories of running during high-school on concrete or asphalt while barefoot came flooding back. Yeah, you don't land on your heels when you're running barefoot because it hurts, but in shoes you can because they cushion that landing.

Thanks for the reminder.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-02-01 12:45:55.531586+00 by: andylyke

I assume you've read "Born to Run".

When I ran track in high school, the shoes were just one layer of leather, slightly thicker on the bottom. It worked then, but look at the profits Nike has generated. And now -- they tout a lighter, thinner shoe and get all the sheep to throw out their $150 air jordans and buy the new, revolutionary Nike Tarahumaras.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-02-01 16:56:09.399209+00 by: ebradway

I wore Birks almost exclusively for about a decade. I can no longer fit my feet in most shoes because, it seems, the bones in my feet have spread out. I can get away with most Keens (large toe box) and Crocs. My turf shoes I wear for Ultimate are painful - but they are the least painful part of that activity.

In high school cross country, we typically wore what amounted to a leather ballet slipper with nails sticking out of the ball of the foot. No heal. No cushioning...

Want a win for shoes: ride a horse without cowboy boots (or English boots for that matter). Cowboy boots have evolved to be very specialized tools. The pointy tip makes threading your foot through the stirrup easier. The front edge of heal catches the stirrup and holds it firmly. The upper back of the heal is designed to support spurs. The boots are made of thick leather covering your shins and calves so when the horse decides to try to scratch you off with a thorn bush or a boulder, you have some protection.

Sure, Native Americans famously rode horses without boots - but their lifestyle allowed them to develop much closer bonds with horses and to develop much thicker skin!

#Comment Re: made: 2010-02-02 02:00:58.927467+00 by: Larry Burton

Native Americans rode bareback. The cowboy boot was designed to work with the saddle.

Last April I became unemployed and started spending most of my day barefoot. Since April was the beginning of warm weather I found myself spending more and more time barefoot even when outside. My feet quit hurting.

A friend of mine bought a pair of VFFs and I asked her if the shoes annoyed her toes. She said that after a day she didn't notice the toes. I bought a pair and soon learned the joys of minimalist footwear. I gave up any hopes of running a few years ago due to knee problems. With the VFFs I gave running a try again and found out I could do it.

I can wear the VFFs in all sorts of wet weather and my feet just get wet, not soggy. I wear my VFFs in the snow and my feet get cold but don't freeze. I think that my feet actually working like they are suppose to keep the blood flowing to my feet and that keeps them from freezing.

I hate wearing conventional footwear anymore. I'm thinking that I will make myself a pair of huaraches for this summer and see if I feel as comfortable in them as I do in my VFFs.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-02-02 10:52:20.161272+00 by: DaveP

The VFFs sound pretty spiffy. Might have to get some once we've got some Fahrenheits again.

But then I've always been a barefoot person when possible. Even in winter for short distances. I routinely ran the 200 yds between school and dorm in high school on packed snow in sub-zero temps barefoot. I walk around in the city now barefoot when the weather's decent. So I figured I'm pretty much their target market.

Now if they figure out something like that for winter wear...

#Comment Re: made: 2010-02-02 14:12:41.780426+00 by: Larry Burton

Dave, check out the VFF KSO Treks. These are made of kangaroo hide and should give you a little more warmth. Polypropylene toe socks can also be of help if you have cold feet. I walked around in the snow and ice in my classics, though, with no real problem.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-02-03 03:54:29.131676+00 by: ebradway

Larry: A Boulderite has started a company selling hurache kits. Basically a piece of Vibram sole and some rope with instructions on how to measure and cut the sole material and tie the rope. The instructions are online - open source shoes!

I've been thinking about trying something similar for running. I've always been harangued by running coaches (including my cross country coach in high school) for running on the balls of my feet. The heal-toe thing never made sense to my body.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-02-03 09:53:00.637122+00 by: DaveP

Larry, how are the soles for anti-static properties? My normal winter footwear are a pair of Red Wings that have ESD soles so I'm not blowing out computer bits by zapping them with static electricity I've built up in the dry air.

I'm pretty sure I'll build up less static with a more barefoot gait, but it's still one of my biggest winter annoyances, and I've really come to love the dissipative soles.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-02-03 20:13:51.88403+00 by: Larry Burton

Eric, I've seen pointers to those plans on sites like Barefoot Ted's. I was thinking about just picking up some leather and making them following the instructions I've found for creating the pattern.

Dave, to be honest, it's been so wet around the Atlanta area there have been few days that static discharge has been noticeable. I can't think of getting zapped while wearing them but I've not read anything that says they have any anti-static properties.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-04-23 19:15:29.20108+00 by: DaveP

Followup: Got a set of KSOs (not treks). After one day, my feet are mostly happy, and I've already noticed less heel-striking when just walking around the office. Only complaint is that I kinda wish they breathed a little better. We'll see what happens as I adapt.