THE WONDER OF THE BARE FOOT ON NATURALLY DEPOSITED GROUND and BETTER SHOES FOR MAN MADE CONDITIONS
A fascinating overview of research about the benefits of barefoot training.
Incidentally, the barefoot / minimalist shoe movement that the doctor complains about:
Running in both minimalist shoes and racing flats does not resemble barefoot running. If used on naturally deposited ground, the ideal condition for barefoot locomotion, these shoes essentially eliminate plantar surface (bottom of foot) localized deformations and shear stress, mechanical forces applied to the plantar surface which produce sensory feedback. These sensations are responsible for the mechanics of barefoot running. If used on outdoor man made surfaces, such as concrete and asphalt,, that allow minimal localized plantar deformation, these shoes will minimize shear stress thereby reducing sensory feedback to levels seen in any shoe.
....continues. I saw today that Merrell are bringing out a new line to cash in:
Merrell Goes Barefoot For 2011
We've saved the most interesting development till last, Merrell is launching a range of minimalist outdoor shoes called 'Barefoot' which they've developed in partnership with Vibram.
There are six models in the range – priced between £80 and £90 – all of which use the same Vibram sole unit with minimal support and cushioning. The theory, based on bare-foot running, is that removing cushioning and stiffening allows the foot to move more naturally and encourages forefoot striking rather than heel landing, which is only possible because of mid-sole cushioning.
Merrell says that the result is lower impact and a more efficient and aligned gait plus stimulated muscles increasing core strength, improving ability and building 'the body's ability to burn more calories'.
It's interesting stuff and the first barefoot shoes we've seen designed for general outdoors walking rather running. Intriguingly, the other advocate of minimal, barefoot footwear at the show was inov-8, arguably about as far away from Merrell as you can get.
Maybe I'm being cynical about cashing in. I like inov8 shoes though - a really nice fit that I use for the hills.