If you didn't catch it, there was a short article by Christopher McDougall titled Is It Better To Be Barefoot that hit Parade magazine yesterday (link). McDougall continues to bring barefoot running to the masses by sounding the alert that heavily padded and fat-heeled sneakers might be causing running injuries. As a barefoot-convert himself, we know Christopher's answer to the story's title. Barefoot is better.
Here's a clip:
Our legs are thickly woven with rubbery, elastic tendons that absorb shock and also use it as free energy, like a rubber ball ricocheting off pavement. "If you encase the foot in thick shoes, you not only lose ground awareness, you limit natural elasticity," says Robert Schleip of the Fascia Research Center at Germany's University of Ulm. According to a study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness in March, barefoot runners experienced significantly less impact than runners in shoes.
"We've gone too far with cushioning and arbitrary shoe designs," says Stephen Pribut, a leading sports podiatrist in Washington, D.C. Still, Pribut is not ready to tell all of his patients to go barefoot, though he agrees that no study has ever shown that barefoot runners are hurt more often than runners in shoes. In a 2009 review article for the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers searched 30 years of studies and were unable to find one demonstrating that running shoes make people less prone to injury.
For another article that goes into detail on the "rubbery, elastic tendons that absorb shock and also use it as free energy," check out McDougall's Everything You Know About Muscle is Wrong — a fascinating article about the much-overlooked but powerfully important connective tissue called fascia (wikipedia on fascia).
Keep spreading the good word on freeing your feet, Christopher!
Be sure and check out my interview with Christopher McDougall!
In it, Chris talks about denying your nature, the sports shoe industry, getting to barefoot, cross-pollinating ideas, and more!