Have you heard of the barefoot running movement?
Perhaps you’ve seen those silly “toe shoes” and laughed at the people wearing them.
They aren’t the most fashionable thing, I’ll admit, but if you wear them fashion is the least of your concerns.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a fan of being barefoot and have quite a few pairs of “barefoot” or “minimalist” shoes. In fact, I’m hardly a fan of socks and if you ask my wife she’ll tell you how many I leave in random places around the house. I’ve never really liked socks and I’ve been using minimalist shoes for about 8 years, ever since I learned about the Vibram Five Fingers.
For me, the reason I value being barefoot so much is because that’s how our body is naturally designed. My usual comment to people asking about it is: “no one is born with shoes on”.
AnthroPhysique is all about creating the body you were born to have. You were born barefoot and hundreds of thousands of years of evolution has created a pretty amazing structure we call a foot. Barefoot running isn’t just a trend, it’s what we’ve done for thousands and thousands of years.
My argument agains shoes is: how can something that was designed a few decades ago compete with thousands of years of evolutionary necessity?
I’m bringing this up now because I recently read an article that peaked my interest: Two year long case study demonstrating an increase in arch height from running in minimalist shoes.
What stood out the most for me were the pictures below. The changes in this person’s feet are incredible and noticeable by anyone, even with an untrained eye. The results are anecdotal and happened over the course of 2 years. From the study:
“To see the true effects of what happens to our foot by removing the external support from a traditional motion control running shoe, it takes time. Years actually. I would like to share an example of a runner who had abandoned her rigid orthotics and motion control ASICS running shoes and began wearing minimalist shoes.”
The client went from having “flat feet, a valgus position of the calcaneus (the heel bone angles inward when observing from behind), and a valgus knee deformity (knock knees). Her symptoms consisted of knee pain as well as frequent lower back pain. She was wearing custom rigid orthotics which were implemented to realign her arch and heel bone.”
They took approximately 3 months to transition the client into barefoot shoes and barefoot running. It then took 2 years training in them to get these results. As the author mentioned, it takes time!
The results, as you can see, are incredible and don’t need much explaining. Overall, the muscles of the foot got stronger which lead to: increasing the heel arch, realigning the foot and realigning the heel bone. This leads to a stronger foundation for the body and likely meant a reduction in their knee and lower back pain.
If these results and images are enough to make you consider the idea of barefoot running, here are a few things to consider:
If fashion is your primary concern, this isn’t for you
TRANSITION into the new shoes over the course of weeks or months otherwise you can expect cramps and injury
Results take time, don’t expect to notice a difference immediately
Bottom line, I don’t believe we’re designed to be wearing shoes. Although there are benefits of protection from the elements, there aren’t many benefits for the structure of your foot. Just ask an engineer about “arch support” and they’ll probably laugh at you.
Have you tried barefoot running? Post thoughts and comments below.