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See, Barefoot Running is NOT Bad for You

Posted by | Posted in Barefoot Running | Posted on 20-07-2012

The media is an interesting thing.

One day, they love you, the next day they hate you. As long as there’s controversy, they’re interested… ish.

The last time barefoot running made all the news it was when the University of Colorado study (done right up the hill from me) apparently showed that barefoot running was less efficient than running in shoes (see my analysis of that study here). In fact, when that study got published, the media went crazy, practically insisting that this was the death knell for those of us who run unshod.

So, I’m not sure what it means that they’ve basically ignored a new study from Northumbria University that shows the exact opposite!

Why are there no crazed headlines about how running without shoes really IS the greatest thing since bread, the slicer, and the sliced bread that comes from intelligently combining the two?

Who knows. Who cares.

More importantly, check out the info about the study here at ScienceDaily.com

In short, if you want the synopsis: Runners used 6% more energy when they wore shoes. Here’s the line I like:

The results suggest that, by ditching their trainers, athletes new to barefoot running adopt a running style similar to experienced barefoot runners and enjoy an immediate and likely beneficial increase in running economy.

Works for me (in fact it DID work for me!)

Vibrating insoles, bare feet, and balance

Posted by | Posted in Barefoot Shoes, Barefoot Walking | Posted on 03-07-2012

The Wall Street Journal online published an article describing the research of James Collins from Harvard. James wondered why people get less steady on their feet as they get older.

His conclusion: They get less feedback from the ground and lose the ability to balance.

So far so good.

His solution: An insole that provides random vibration to stimulate the nerves in the feet.

Can anyone here think of another way of doing the same thing, but without all the electronic bells and whistles? Anyone? Beuler? Beuler?

If you said, “Take off your shoes!” you win any prize on the second row!

If you said “Take off your shoes! And if you don’t want to step on unpleasant things, wear Invisible Shoes!” you get a prize from the TOP row! ;-)

I discussed this idea with Dr. Michael Merzinich last year. He, too, thinks that the continued lack of sensation that comes from wearing shoes — especially the big orthopedic shoes they put on elderly people who can’t balance! — results in the brain map of your feet “de-differentiating.” In other words, your brain thinks you have a big paddle at the end of your foot, rather than a highly flexible and strong appendage.

And it’s hard to balance a paddle.

If you think about this, it sheds light on another bit of research on balance and the elderly: Studies have shown that Tai Chi can help elderly people regain their balance. But it’s probably not the Tai Chi that’s causing the effect (BTW, I have nothing against Tai Chi… I did it and taught it for years). It’s the time spent barefoot, FEELING the ground.

I hope that someone does a study with Invisible Shoes and balance sometime. I’d place a bet on the outcome.