This is Gonna Upset Some People…

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?

Who knows?

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:

  1. Minimal heel to toe drop to allow for normal support loading during gait.
  2. Neutral (no motion control) to reduce interference with pronation/supination.
  3. Little to no cushioning – thick and/or soft cushion in the shoes will lead to poor technique and more injuries.
  4. Light weight – no more than 10 ounces for men’s shoes and 8 ounces for women’s.
  5. Foot shaped – not pointed at the toe end.
  6. Wide toe box – space for the toes to move in all directions.
  7. At least 1/2inch between end of toes and end of shoe.
  8. No arch support.
  9. 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.

 

Run long,

Shaun Brewster.

 

Leave A Reply (6 comments so far)


  1. Onedaydoris
    3 years ago

    About time eh? I adopted minimal sole footwear 3 years ago after researching the science on running shoes and natural foot motion. It was after a year of persistent hip pain that stopped me running. I taught myself how to run minimal sole in Dunlop Volleys! I\’ve slowly but surely built up the kms and while I\’m not entirely free of niggles, they don\’t stop me running. Wish my physio had saved me the extra effort and advised minimal sole footwear straight up! Wonder how long this advice will take to percolate into the mainstream physio community.


  2. Jono
    3 years ago

    Cracking article, it just makes sense. I find it bizarre that all these years we have been wearing shoes that stop our feet from what they do naturally. I\’m always prepared to have a go at something different and on that note, do you any advice for us on how we best transition to a shoe like the VIVOBAREFOOT? Also, how would this impact the decision on what socks to select? Thanks Shaun, sound advice as always.


  3. Shaun
    3 years ago

    Hi Jono, great question and one that I hope I can clarify for you. The process of transitioning to a barefoot or minimalist style shoe will vary from person to person depending on the current state of functionality in their feet. I recently gave a presentation at a conference on this very thing, so the below are the steps I gave on this topic that will hopefully act as a general guide for the ‘average’ person…
    Reduction of time spent in high heeled and overly structured shoes
    Begin introduction of more flexible and lower profile shoes for walking and ADLs (activities of daily living).
    Barefoot activity at home (short periods)
    Barefoot activity on uneven surfaces (short periods)
    Short barefoot/minimalist runs (100-200m)
    Gradual increase in BF running with at least 2 rest days between runs until there is no pain or discomfort after any running session.

    This is a progression guide that can be followed. But at the first sign of pain or discomfort in the feet or ankles, you should stop and either go back a step or stay with at that point until you are comfortable enough to progress further.

    As for socks, if you are prone to blisters, Injinji socks are great. Really though, in the right shoes, blisters just shouldn’t be a problem. I would avoid overly thick socks or any that are very tight and compress the toes together.

    I hope this helps, but feel free to email me at shaun@brewstersrunning.com if you have any more questions.


  4. Jono
    3 years ago

    Thanks Shaun, I\’m looking forward to giving it a try. A slow transition makes sense. It will be interesting to keep an eye on the running community over the next few years and note the rate of change. It will be equally interesting to see how running shoe specialists adapt their methodologies for shoe fitting, which are nearly all based on assessing one\’s pronation/supination and fitting the shoe that eliminates it.


  5. Beck Ringrose
    3 years ago

    What exactly is barefoot technology? Isn\’t the technology that the technology has been taken out? They seem very expensive for a shoe that has less, but I hear they can be bought for cheap. I think I could be converted to barefoot running but get annoyed with the bias I read in articles about it. I find most people try to do too much too soon with running, with or without fancy runners.


  6. Shaun
    3 years ago

    Hi Beck, thanks for your message.
    Barefoot technology as a term is definitely ‘tongue in cheek’. The whole idea of less technology is the goal. Finding an article about barefoot running that doesn’t have bias is going to be tricky as most people are in one camp or another. The goal is to read it all and make an informed decision. I agree that we need to take things slowly with running, transition, etc. It’s about getting to that finish line in one piece!
    Thanks,

    Shaun.

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