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Barefoot Running vs. Running Shoes

Posted by | Posted in Barefoot Running, Barefoot Running Shoes, Running Sandals | Posted on 14-11-2011

A barefoot running vs. running shoes “infographic”

I’m get all geeky over well-presented information, and the graphic about barefoot running and regular running shoes from XRayTechnicianSchoools.net is a pleasure.

Whenever someone says to me “Barefoot running can cause injuries” I remind them of the fact in 1/3 of the infographic: 90% (I heard 80%) of marathoners get injured each year.

When people ask me about wearing barefoot running shoes in the winter, I remind them of that big squiggly time line showing that for hundreds of thousands of years, we would walk and run barefoot, without shoes, in some pretty cold places (in other words, your body, given time, will acclimate).

And, I agree that being barefoot is not appropriate all the time… like when you want to get into a restaurant. Hence the value of our high-tech upgrade on the Tarahumara huaraches running sandals, where you still get a great barefoot feel, but can get into restaurants.

I also got a great flashback from the 1974 timeline: I vividly remember getting my first pair of Nike Waffle Trainers. What’s funny is that most people remember that it allowed you to land on your heel. I remember that it had such a large amount of “toe spring” (a curve up from the ball of your foot to your toes) that it kept me on my toes! (I was, and still am, a sprinter, so I don’t spend much time running on my heels).

AMAZING to see that barefoot running shoes are a $1.7 billion industry, in part because the market has grown MUCH faster than anyone imagined it would. But also because most of the barefoot running shoes are SO expensive. Minimalist shoes clearly doesn’t mean minimalist prices, it seems ;-)

And, of course, I agree about the best way to start barefoot running (there’s no rush to make the transition out of running shoes and over to barefoot)

Free Your Feet
Created by: X Ray Technician Schools

Measure your feet for Invisible Shoes Barefoot Sandals

Posted by | Posted in Barefoot Running Shoes, Huaraches, Running Sandals | Posted on 10-07-2011

Here’s a quick video showing you how to measure your feet and get the correct size for your Invisible Shoes.

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Orthotics vs. Barefoot Running

Posted by | Posted in Barefoot Running, Barefoot Running Shoes, Huaraches, Running Sandals | Posted on 18-01-2011

The only time I’ve worn anything other than my huaraches or my sprinting spikes in the last 16 months has been the 3 times I put on my old running shoes… so I could shovel snow.

Those shoes have my $200 orthotics in them. And each time I’ve put them on, I have the same thought, “Geez, my foot can’t even move. How did I wear these?”

Often, when I’m out and about, someone will see my Invisible Shoes and say, “Those look great, but I can’t wear them. I need orthotics.”

“I used to think the same thing,” I reply. “But let me ask you something. When has putting a cast on a limb and immobilizing it made it stronger?”

“Well… never,” they say, not wanting to admit the obvious fatal flaw in their reasoning.

“Right. So you put a cast on your foot, called an orthotic, it gets weaker. Then you need a new cast to handle how much weaker you’ve gotten, and then… Oh, by the way,” I mention, “you had your orthotic made while you were standing on a flat surface, didn’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Look at the shape of your shoe. Is it flat?”

“Uh… no.”

“Because of how the shape of the shoe influences the way you move, you really need a different orthotic for each shoe. And it needs to be fitted based on how you move in that shoe, not how you stand, motionless, on the ground.”

“Hmmm…” I can see the glimmer of realization in their eyes.

Well, now I have new ammunition in my anti-orthotic holster, an article in the New York Times by one of my favorite science writers, Gina Kolata: Close Look at Orthotics Raises a Welter of Doubts

Let me give you a few highlights:

Shoe inserts or orthotics may be helpful as a short-term solution, preventing injuries in some athletes. But it is not clear how to make inserts that work. The idea that they are supposed to correct mechanical-alignment problems does not hold up.

Kinda sums it up, yes? Just wait, there’s more.  Gina interviews the top othotics researcher, Benno M. Nigg, who says this about a man named Jason’s flat feet:

There is no need to “correct” a flat foot. All Jason needs to do is strengthen his foot and ankle muscles and then try running. without orthotics.

Who knew? ;-) Well, *I* did… I’ve had really flat feet my whole life… until I started running and walking barefoot. Now I have some arch in my foot. BTW, I’m legally required to say that barefoot running shoes and sandals are not a medical treatment, I’m not a doctor, nor am I able to promise that by going without shoes you will develop arches in your feet. That said, do some Googling and you’ll hear a lot of similar stories. Do with that what you will.

Sometimes people with high arches give me the same story. “I need support because my arches are so high.” Just because they’re high, doesn’t mean they’re strong, especially if you’ve been supporting them all your life… remember the cast analogy.

Now I’m not going to say that orthotics don’t do something. But the question is: What do they do? How do they  do it? And are they really helping.

Dr. Joseph Hamill responds, in Gina’s article:

I guess the main thing to note is that, as biomechanists, we really do not know how orthotics work.

Results from his studies cause Dr. Nigg to add:

There was no way to predict the effect of a given orthotic.

Hey, I’m not here to make anyone throw away their high-priced foot supports. Even though I haven’t worn mine in well over a year, nor can I conceive of a time I’ll ever wear them again, I can’t bear to toss mine away yet.

But I am here to inspire a bit of wondering, a bit of curiosity, a bit of common sense, and a bit of critical thinking.

Man lived without orthotics for a LOOOONG time. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t have benefited from them. But it means they got along without them. Maybe you can too. It doesn’t cost much — it time or dollars — to set up an experiment for one.