In March this year something big happened.
There is a multi-billion dollar shoe industry that exists purely because of a belief. A belief that we need certain things in our shoes that will save us from injuring ourselves.
But like I said, something big happened. Something that should change everything.
Since the 1970’s us runners have been getting progressively more and more injured. It was in the 70’s that the shoe companies discovered that there was a whole lot of money to be made if they convinced us that we needed support, motion control, cushioning, rigidity and a stack of other things that simply don’t make any sense. We, the consumer bought into it and as a result, running developed a reputation for being an activity that will eventually get you injured. Never mind that fact that humans have been running for millions of years without any shoes at all and doing just fine. In fact, humans are THE BEST designed animal for endurance running that ever lived. There is no other creature that can do what the human body can do with regard to running great distances. It is the things we take for granted such as our ability to sweat, to breath out of sync with our stride, and we even have a special ligament at the base of our skull that stops our head bobbing when we run. So why would we buy into such a preposterous lie?
What we do know is that the American College of Sports Medicine (the world authority on exercise, and sports medicine) came out in March and made a statement that should make all the major shoe companies hang their heads in shame. Or at least apologize and then set about redesigning everything they make.
ACSM released a position statement on their recommendations for shoe selection. These recommendations are a complete 180 degree turn from what the authorities have been trying to sell us for years.
Here is the crux of what ACSM is now telling us we should be buying:
- Minimal heel to toe drop to allow for normal support loading during gait.
- Neutral (no motion control) to reduce interference with pronation/supination.
- Little to no cushioning – thick and/or soft cushion in the shoes will lead to poor technique and more injuries.
- Light weight – no more than 10 ounces for men’s shoes and 8 ounces for women’s.
- Foot shaped – not pointed at the toe end.
- Wide toe box – space for the toes to move in all directions.
- At least 1/2inch between end of toes and end of shoe.
- No arch support.
- Orthotics only considered as temporary fixes (6-8weeks) – exercise should be prescribed to correct any dysfunction that may have required temporary support.
All I can say is AMEN.
At last we have an official statement from an authority that can’t be argued with. The statement is based on solid scientific research and should be taken seriously by anyone that takes their running and their body seriously. For many though, it means they will need to reconsider everything they thought was true about shoes selection. It also means that changing to the above recommendations will present the potential for injury. The transitioning from supportive or cushioned shoes to low profile, neutral and unsupportive shoes should and does take time. Those who don’t respect this process and attempt to rush it are more than likely to pay the price.
A couple of years ago, we at Brewsters Running discovered VIVOBAREFOOT shoes and have worn nothing else ever since. Hence, this position statement is like music to our ears, because it 100% supports everything we have believed in since we made that change. There are a lot of different brands of shoe on the market that will present you with features that match these recommendations, but VIVOBAREFOOT is the only one we have found that refuses to stray from the key principles in every shoe they make. Not only that, they put a large emphasis on educating the public about the benefits of letting our feet “do their thing” by not getting in the way.
Essentially, your shoes should exist for one purpose… They should stop you cutting your feet on sharp objects. That’s all.