“… It was reported that prescribing motion control shoes incorrectly, without proper justification or rationale, is potentially dangerous”
The sentence above seems fairly innocuous, until that is, you consider the source of the quote. This was from an article titled, “The Science and History behind theRunning Shoe” by Dr. Reed Ferber. It was also in the free “Running Room” magazine.
Okay, for some, if not most people, that will probably justify a virtual tumbleweed rolling across a virtual desert. To some however, this is the sign of the beginning of the avalanche and acceptance of barefoot and minimalist running. Yep, it might seem as if I am grasping at straws here. Work with me on this.
The article itself was not “Barefoot or Minimal is great”, and neither did I expect it to be so. However, it didn’t shout, “Buy big supportive shoes” either. This is where I became interested.
“The Running Room” is, if you aren’t already aware, a running shoe store. But in my experience (and in the experience of other minimal and barefoot runners) a shoe store which appears to be very anti-barefoot. I will even go to say, anti-minimal shoe.
My local Running Room fills me with dread. I go in on very rare occasions and I ensure that I know precisely what I want and I try to get in and out as quickly as possible. My un-orthodox training schedule, my haphazard attitude to racing and my barefoot/minimalist running stance has made conversations with the staff strained and uncomfortable. They have been in my experience a very “conservative” store. A store that seems unwilling to look at change. A store that takes the art of running and in some cases itself, too seriously. (Hence the reason we don’t really get along, because… well, I don’t!)
Then I saw this article. The article is written by a Doctor who is investigating running injuries at the University of Calgary,. He starts by talking about the history of the running shoe; providing dates which highlight the recent invention of the modern running shoe. He writes how the term “over-pronation” was only coined in 1978. 1978! I am older than the aliment that has created the motion-controlled shoe. He cites in his article relevant studies that show that incorrectly perscribed shoes cause damage. At least half the article indicates that running shoes do not necessarily prevent injuries. That running in the wrong shoe causes issues.
“Considering the complexity of running injuries, one must assume that changing footwear, or even eliminating shoes altogether, cannot eliminate the potential for –or serve- as the only treatment for a running-related injury”
What? Running Room? Shoes will not prevent running injuries? I know it seems like I am making a big deal about this. I mean the article doesn’t say “DITCH YOUR SHOES”, but coming from a company that has had over 25 years building a reputation cemented around the latest model of motion controlled running shoe, this I think is a significant change.
I think you will find a lot of Barefoot and Minimal runners out there –especially those who have been around the block, in pretty much most senses of the phrase- will not claim going barefoot will solve your running injuries either. Okay, going barefoot helped me, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I advocate everyone ditch their shoes immediately and embrace the mud. Barefoot and Minimalist runners as a whole take the view:
“…the one thing research from the past decade clearly demonstrates is that you run best when you are in a comfortable shoe.”
Running Room and the minimalist community on the same page? I am waiting for the correlating horsemen on winged horses and random debris to start falling from the sky.
So to me this insignificant one page article hidden in the midst of shoe advertising, sent in a free magazine from a shoe company that has in my experience been anti-barefoot/minimalist and very Pro supportive shoe, is huge.