All this minimal / barefoot stuff has hit the mainstream and those of us that were highlighting it years ago have been proved right.....or have we?
Nothing is ever as simple as that. There is undoubtedly a marketing opportunity in minmal shoes - if that is where the demand is then supply will pop up to meet it....just as i did when people were being sold motion control shoes. But there is more...with Born to Run and the research of Daniel Lieberman we thought that the biomechanical argument and the anthropological argument was over.
Now however up pops more research (Variation in Foot Strike Patterns during Running among Habitually Barefoot Populations) that muddies the waters.
These results indicate that not all habitually barefoot people prefer running with a forefoot strike, and suggest that other factors such as running speed, training level, substrate mechanical properties, running distance, and running frequency, influence the selection of foot strike patterns.
It is not as black and white as we always like to make it. We get so dogmatic about everything! It is not necessarily being barefoot that leads to a forefoot strike....but speed, cadence, distance etc.
The NY Times piece on the research makes a good conclusion:
“Mostly what we’ve learned” with the new study, he said, “is how much still needs to be learned.”
I am sure that Socrates said something similar...
Anyway, all this ties in with a podcast I was listening to today on the way to work. It includes an ultrarunner who regularly does the 95mile West Highland Way Race in Scotland and other 100+ miles events. He talks about foot care, both shoes and how to prevent blisters. He talk on shoes is really interesting as it brings together some of these ideas:
- shoe choice and depend on terrain
- shoe choice can depend on distance
- foot strike is more about cadence - shorter strides make a forefoot strike more natural
- some shoes prevent a fore foot strike and some styles of gait can make a fore foot strike harder to achieve